Protection at sea

I have always been an excellent swimmer, especially in the ocean, so when the surf was forecast to be between six feet and eight feet in Laguna Beach, California, on a warm summer day in July 1970, I didn’t have reservations about going to the beach. Before long, I was there with my fins, ready to go!

For a while everything was fine and fun—riding the waves and enjoying the surf. Then things changed. A giant swell suddenly appeared with a set of three rogue waves. People on the shore said they had never seen any so big before. (We later estimated their size at between 20 and 25 feet.) I dove under the first wave and came up to find the second wave breaking farther out. I got caught in extreme turbulence and was tossed around like a rag doll. There was no sense of which way was up or down, and I started to ingest water. All of a sudden, memories from my life played before my eyes: I was back in high school, in 1951, playing a football game against our arch rival. The light was ten times brighter than normal, the air fresh like after a summer shower, the crowd noise intense, and I said to myself, I’m drowning!

From the Editors
Thinking out of the thimble
December 24, 2012

We'd love to hear from you!

Easily submit your testimonies, articles, and poems online.