I went swimming at 8 years old and almost drowned.

Swimming was never my strong point, and still isn’t, having grown up with a father who had no interest in Sport what-so-ever I never learned to be a competent swimmer. Maybe I’m being harsh here, he did a bit of running, played tennis, but I can’t remember ever being coached on anything more advanced than playing catch in the garden. Going purely from memory, and as we know memory can be a complete liar, this is what happened.

I visited a swimming pool near my school in approximately 1989 when I was around 8 years old near Windsor in England. Most swimming pools have a large area for routine activities and a ‘rapids’ which are tight slaloms of fast paced water, basically a lazy river with speed. I spent some time in the main area with friends barely touching the floor but managing to stay afloat, until the wave machine came on. Unable to feel the swimming pool floor I started to go under, luckily my doggy paddle was good enough to swim to the shallower end. Feeling vulnerable I got out to relax until the wave machine turned off. Then I headed to the rapids. The speed of the rapids was fun, it basically took you round without having to swim at all. Great for me, a non-swimmer. Weekdays are especially quiet at swimming pools and as a result I was on my own for what seemed like forever. Bobbing along on my toes I relaxed for a moment. Then the wave machine came on.

Waves just high enough to cover my head started to quietly drawn me, I tried to fight the waves by pushing off the floor gasping for air. The slippery walls of the rapids offered nothing to grab on to, my hand slid down the tiles. A brief fight for survival was followed by a unique relaxing trance like state. It’s like my brain decided that it was over, I can’t swim, I couldn’t fight this. Almost by instinct, I lay back into the water, in a trance like state mesmerised by the pattern on the surface water. At this point I wasn’t trying to breathe, my body was still, I don’t know how much time passed, it could have been 2 or 20 seconds. Suddenly I felt a grip on my wrist and was pulled to the surface allowing me to climb to safety. I was about 8 years old at the time and the who saved my life was not much older. In shock I looked at her, spat out a mouth full of water and gargled “Thanks”. Then she disappeared and I never saw her again.

Without her I would have been discovered 5–10 minutes later. A lifeless body floating around the rapids and my family would have been devastated. Fortunately at the exact time I needed help I got it. Now in her mid-thirties I expect she’s got children of her own and with any luck they can swim better than I can!

Thank you random girl for saving me.