I was sweating profusely even though I had just come out of the shallow end of the pool. I stood transfixed as I gazed at the 10 m deep end of the water!
‘Jump’ the instructor thundered.
I followed the instruction and jumped but was soon struggling to keep my head above water and desperately kicking my feet and trying to reach the end of the pool. I thought for a while that today is perhaps the last day of my life but next moment I somehow reached the end ,but in the excitement and fear banged my hand on the projection meant to hold the end of the pool.
With one hand I held the pool end and saw the deep gash on left elbow from where the blood flowed and I could see the white of the bone. The instructor pulled me out and I was rushed to the Naval Hospital. I continued to bleed. When I returned back I had a couple of stitches on my elbow and a thick bandage for next two weeks!
While still in college in the pre final year a team of officers from the Indian Navy came for recruitment on the campus. I was enamored by the shining white and the smartness of the team. My last brush with whites was while still in school I had opted for Naval Wing of the NCC. What followed was something, I had only dreamt and one fine day, I had cleared all the pre selection process and after a year’s wait landed at the Naval Academy, in Kochi. The physical rigors were something totally unexpected and right from morn till night it was nerve racking and physically exhausting schedules. What I feared most was entering the swimming pool as I had never gone near the water except on boat rides in lakes!
During the first week at the academy we went to the swimming pool and had fun at the shallow end for the entire time while those who knew swimming mocked at us non swimmers and enjoyed themselves! We tried to learn to float as the instructors tried to help us talking gently sometimes and shouting at other times for the lack of application.
The D day came the next week when all non -swimmers were asked to step out of the shallow end and by turn jump from the deep end. The instructor watched keenly as the series of debacles followed.
First it was Sunder, a guy from Chennai who was almost trembling and the moment he jumped he went down like a stone! As he did not surface , the instructor jumped and followed him and extricated him out of the pool, as he continued to cough having drunk a lot of water. Next, it was Rangaraj, who looked equally hapless and was struggling to keep his head up after the jump. He too was pulled out by the instructor. My turn came next and knew a similar fate awaited me! What followed, became an experience to remember for the rest of my life!
After two weeks the fear had been conquered and I slowly picked up the swimming and had the proudest moment when I qualified the 10 m dive and 100m free style test after six months. This was a lesson I never forgot as I undertook more challenges like a dive in the sea, zip line across the hill, rappelling on rocks ,bridges, and even parasailing.
PS : This post is my entry for the 'Rise above Fear' contest sponsored by Mountain Dew and Indiblogger(https://www.facebook.com/mountaindewindia.)