How long does it take for a person to drown?

  • Well, I never learnt how to swim.

    I’ve almost drowned multiple times in my life, mainly from childhood, however, one from just last year. At my school, we organise something called a Positive Rewards Program, which is basically a program that says, hey! you didn’t knock a guys teeth out! here’s a free excursion.

    The excursion this time was to an Olympic-grade pool where our upcoming athletes for the (Commonwealth) Olympic Games were training time to time again. There was one central pool, and the further you went into it, the deeper the pool was.

    My two friends adore swimming, and naturally, they wanted to dive straight in and try out the inflatable obstacle courses that the lifeguards had generously set up for us. The inflatable obstacle course was situated DIRECTLY in the space beneath the diving boards, so it was ungodly deep.

    As you went across the course, they’d spray you with water. My friends persuaded me to try it out, that I’d just have to hook my hand onto the edge before I sank too deep – and besides, there’s lifeguards! Wanting to impress them and a few other students who I found .. cool .. I decided to try my luck.

    Bad choice.

    I stepped onto the inflatable course and I knew I was into trouble, but I couldn’t turn back! Peer pressure is a hellish thing. So eventually, after a lot of clammering and clinging to wet rubber, I made it to the end of the course.

    The only way to get off was to leap into the deep end. So I did just that.

    And that’s when I started drowning. I held my breath the best I could and scraped my fingers trying to find the wall, but I sunk deeper and deeper. The pool was so deep the pressure popped my ears, and my ears were burning horribly from the chlorine and other chemicals that made me feel as if I was burning.

    When you drown, your instincts tell you to kick, to jump, you’re so desperate to get to that surface, you’re acting as if you’re running. You really can’t help it. It’s so frustrating because you know you’re a lost cause, and you’re in a constant state of panic. You’re gagged by water and you can’t scream, they can’t see you, you’re down way too deep. You can only pray that they realise somethings wrong.

    But you have to wait. And waiting is the worst part of drowning.

    Eventually, your lungs start to burn. You’re desperate for that sweet taste of oxygen, you want to go home. You keep thinking you can breathe, you’re in absolute denial – but you just can’t breathe. You start holding your throat (your mind is haywire, you can’t swim, you want to stop yourself from inhaling), and the pressure makes it feel like you’re exploding. Eventually, your lungs give out, and you take a deep, deep breath.

    You’re desperate for satisfaction, craving to breathe so desperately, but you just feel the water fill you and make you heavier, you feel the weight of it clog all your orifices. Try sticking your head in a bucket. It’s hard to explain but the weight of water just .. hurts so badly in the end.

    As I inhaled more and more water, I began to feel really dizzy. Then calm. I almost left my body, it felt like I was waking up from a deep, long nap, and I was still in the after-effects of it. I was on the pool floor now, too weak to do anything, and I was just so calm. Death didn’t worry me, which is weird, because I’m terrified of dying.

    Your vision starts to spot and you start to hallucinate – there’s no oxygen to your brain, so of course you’re going to hallucinate. Eventually, you just black out.

    The last thing I remember is having my chest compressed and lips pressed in CPR, then throwing up a whole heap of water. People said I was really, really disorientated, and I was at risk from drowning in the water in my lungs, so I was whisked off to hospital. Drowning is a horrifying experience.

    But hey, free excursion!

    (Attached is a picture of where I almost died. Funky!)

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