Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fear of the Sea

I have a need to apologize to any faithful readers out there. My blog has been so boring - for those of you who are not interested, nor pursuing dual citizenship. So I will continue where I've left off with the adventures in southern Italy. We had last left off with the creepy waiter who was continually calling my phone, not even to speak to me, but to my friend! Let's backtrack though to the part where we were swimming in the warm waters of Capri.

Not many people know this about me, except for perhaps my parents, my brother, and a friend or two, but I have a fear of the sea. Yes indeed. It has not always been like that however. When I was little, you see, I was a fish... or at least like one. As a child, I spent every summer at the local pool, swimming until my lips were blue, teeth were chattering, and fingers pruned. On rare occasions, my family made the trip to the beach. At the time, it was a forty-five minute drive in the car, which is now only a fifteen minute drive since we moved some years ago. I absolutely loved the ocean, and loved body surfing. The bigger the waves, the better. It was depressing with 'little baby waves', and not as fun.

This all changed five years ago when I went to the beach with my brother, Rhythmic Gymnastics coach, her two children, and two girls, my age, who were visiting from Germany. One day, we decided to go to the beach. As always, this was exciting to me. A day at the beach! What could be better?! The water that day was pretty cold, and I am not one who likes cold water. So I waded up to my shins, and watched as everyone else cringed, torturing themselves with the icy waters. (The waters around here do not heat up until August, which is also when the jellyfish hatch. How exciting...... if you like little snots-like creatures in your hair.) There was an extremely strong undertow (and later learned a riptide), which I did not pay much attention to but should have. As each wave pulled back from the beach, it pulled me as well, my brother and my coach's two children.

Keep in mind that one of my coach's children has a learning disability and was only six years old at the time. His older brother was eight or nine years at the time. At some point, the younger child began going underwater. He did not know how to swim, inspite of his mother's efforts to have him taught during swimming lessons. His older brother also had swimming lessons, but obviously was too young to be a strong swimmer. Since the younger of the two children could no longer stand, as the water was getting deeper since we were going further into the water, I decide to help him, and hold him up. By now the water was up to my chest, and the older of the two could no longer hold his head above water. My brother decided to help him. We decided it was time to head back. But it was too late. We were slowly being sucked out to sea, and any efforts we made to head back to shore made no progress. The current was just too strong.

My brother and I then realized we were in trouble when we could no longer keep our own heads above water, due to the current and trying to keep the two little kids above water. It is very difficult to try to swim or tread water, while holding someone. Finally we saw some relief, as four lifeguards came to our rescue. They gave us little buoys  to hold onto, and helped  us out of the water. It was great to be back on shore.

Luckily, a half hour after we were rescued, all swimmers had to get out of the water because there was a shark siting. There must have been someone looking over us that day because we either could have drown, or been eaten by a shark. We slowly made our way back over to my coach and the two other girls who did not come into the water. I told my coach what happened, and she said, "we just got here and already you have to be saved?" All I could think of was, "wow! We just tried saving your kids because you don't seem to bother to watch them, and you say that?!"

 A couple of days later, she called and said, " I talked to my son (the younger one), and he said he wasn't going under the water, that nothing happened." I said, "really? Apparently he didn't know what was going on, and I was holding him up out of the water so he wouldn't drown." Perhaps I should've just taken care of myself then.

From that day, both my brother and myself are afraid to go into the water at the beach. My time at Capri was probably the only time I went in the ocean since that day, and have only been in the water in Pesaro where they have huge rock walls in circle formations so as to prevent tides and waves. Otherwise I don't go in the water.


  1. what a scary story about the undercurrent! you were very lucky.

    there were rough waters on the southern coast in sicily the other day, and people said to stay out of the water--that it could suck you out!!!

  2. It was really scary, and I was very lucky. There are plenty of people who tire and drown from trying to fight the current.

    The best thing to do in such a situation is to let it take you out and try to swim around it.