Facing your fears: One drowning at a time

By Elizabeth Romano
Guest Writer

I believe in facing your fears. When I was a child I was much of a tomboy, always skinning my knees wrecking my roller blades on the pavement all the way to making mud pies and catching salamanders in the creek near my house.

One day after a long week of rain finally ended I couldn’t wait to go down to the creek to look for salamanders. As I walked back through the woods I can remember being able to hear the sound of water rushing. When I finally made it the water was brown and much higher than normal. I was going to leave until I saw the girl from down the road catching salamanders so I decided to stay.

After minutes of searching I finally found one! When I tried to grab it I slipped on a slick spot of rocks causing me to fall into the strong current of water. The water was over my head so I couldn’t touch the bottom and every time I tried to come up for air the current would smash me in the face pushing me back under. Minutes passed–that felt like hours–and I finally caught onto a rock sticking up in the middle of creek allowing me to cough up the water in my mouth and catch my breath. I saw the neighbor and screamed with fear for her to get help, but all she did was stand there, watching me. Once I realized she wasn’t going to get help and no one could hear me screaming I let go of the rock using what I had left to make it to the edge. Somehow after a few more slaps in the face from the muddy water I made it to land. When I knew I was safe I started sobbing uncontrollably. I couldn’t believe that I had just almost drowned.

For a while after that, just being around water would give me anxiety; I had a hard time dealing with my fear. Until one day I decided to face my fear and take up a lifeguard training course so I could become a lifeguard. My second year lifeguarding was when I really had to face my fear head on.

One day while I was on duty, it was raining so not many kids were swimming, but the pool was still open because there was no lightning. I was guarding the deep end, which is ten feet deep. There were only two local kids swimming in it–they were twins. A boy and a girl. The boy was a great swimmer always diving for toys at the deep end, but his sister however never left the edge. She only hung out at that end because of her brother.

I don’t know what was so different about that day but she pushed herself off the wall and started to swim out to her brother, getting a mouth full of water. She reached out for her brother and started to pull him under with her, so instead of just one person drowning, there were two.

I screamed for the other guard, but he wasn’t paying attention. I dove in, grabbing one with my right arm and the other with my left kicking my legs as hard as I could to get to the edge. Once I made it and got the twins to safety, that’s the day I conquered my fear completely. I went from almost losing my own life in water to saving others the same way.

Elizabeth Romano is a senior majoring in communication and can be contacted at eromano@lhup.edu

 
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