Posted by JC on August 19, 2000 at 06:19:04:
I am a beginner diver and today I thought I would die. I was saved by a lifeguard who showed up in the nick of time.
My dive buddy and I got certified 2 months ago. Since then we have dove Shaw's Cove and La Janelle and had wonderful experiences. But today was the most intense, near death experience of my life.
We showed up at Leo Carillo (I had read about it in a dive book)and there was no one around. We looked for a lifeguard or other divers, but there were none. While making our dive plan, we noticed some of the waves were hitting about 4 feet. We decided to go ahead and put on our equipment, and keep an eye on the ocean to see if the waves changed. They did, we started seeing 2 foot waves with about 12 seconds in between them and figured we could handle that. We started into the water. As we headed out, got both fins on, I heard a whistle. I turned around and there was a lifeguard up on the cliff waving his arms. I didn't know if her wanted us to go out quicker to pass the breaking waves or come in or what. I yelled to my buddy who was a little ahead of me that I thought we should go back, there was a lifeguard, and so we headed back.
Then everything changed. The waves started getting bigger, we were right at/behind the break point - rising high with each one and coming back down. But as we swam closer to shore they started breaking on top of us, pushing us down. My buddy, who had been just ahead of me, was able to catch one and ride it in a ways to shore. They just continued to break on top of me.
I was panicking, hyperventilating. I couldn't get any/enough air out of my reg, but keeping it in kept me from sucking in water while I was under, so after each wave, when I shot back up to the surface I would pull it out and grab a couple of breaths before stuffing it back in as I was pulled under again.
The waves were hitting 7 feet, and I was swimming as hard as I could toward shore but not getting any closer. I saw my buddy nearing shore and thought maybe I could touch the bottom. Trying to find out was a mistake. I stopped swimming to see if I could touch and another wave crashed. I hit the bottom hard and was twisted and turned - I had no idea which way was up or down or toward the shore or anything and it was not letting me back up. I fought and I fought and just as I made it to the surface, I was pulled down again. Then I gave up.
I knew that I could not make it to the shore. I prayed that someone would help me, but I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to die. I just gave up. And then, by the grace of God, the lifeguard was there, pulling me toward shore. Yelling at me to kick. I thought I was kicking, but my legs woud barely move. Finally we were at the shore and he was dragging me and yelling at me to crawl. My legs hurt so bad, I tried to make them move, but I couldn't. He dragged me past the water, pulled my fins, mask, and bc off. My buddy and I lay there for half an hour, nauseous, shaking, out of breath.
I had no idea the ocean could be like this. I had no idea I would react in my panic by freezing up and giving up. If that man had not shown up while we were on our way out and got us to come back, if he had not made it down from the cliff where I first saw him and come in after me and pulled my ignorant butt out of the ocean, I would be dead right now. Someone was looking out for us today.
We learned many lessons today. We are too new to be diving without someone else around. I'm not diving again without a lifeguard and/or other divers around, so I know that the ocean is diveable. Because obviously I can't tell that on my own yet. I need to learn about the ocean, about the waves and weather - and talk to real people who haved dived that spot, not just rely on some guidebook that went to press 5 or more years ago.
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