When I was in elementary school, I lived in San Antonio, home of Seaworld and Six Flags Fiesta Texas. The latter has a Texas-shaped pool resembling a beach toward South Texas. The Panhandle contains a wave pool contraption that starts the waves for the whole pool and continues out to the shore of South Texas. My family had season passes to both amusement parks, since they weren’t far from our apartment, so we went there often.
My last and strongest memory from Six Flags Fiesta Texas is not riding in the kiddie rides or the boat that swung back and forth, but the time when I grabbed myself a ring float, arranged it on my childish waist, and swam out to the wave pool. My cousin Shane and I had been to several public pools in our youth wherein wave pools existed, so I was confident I could handle it.
But I couldn’t. By the time the first wave had come and gone, I was way below the water. The waves were more powerful than the ones I’d experienced on my bodyboard during several summers in Galveston. My ring float managed to escape from me, and I was too weak to handle the force of the water, so I couldn’t have continued grasping the handles with my fingers. I thought, “This is it. I’m gonna die, and no one’s going to know until it’s too late to save me.” For some reason, I couldn’t scream or think to do anything but gasp for as much air as I could each time the water moved my mouth back to the surface long enough.
I was this little fourth or fifth grader struggling to stay alive all by herself; I was told to go play by myself. I had never been taught how to ask for help when I was in danger. When I was younger and living in Seagoville, I took swimming lessons at a community pool. We learned how to keep ourselves above the water in the event that we needed to, as well as the basics of swimming, but we were taught lifeguards would come to our rescue if we were in danger in a pool.
A lifeguard didn’t come to me, and I eventually started crying.
The next thing I knew, something strong was pulling me up—it was a man, who looked like he frequented these things often. I’d seen him before the rush of waves came tumbling against everyone, and I’ll never forget his face. He asked me if I was alright. Embarrassed about nearly drowning and scared because he was a general stranger, I replied, “Yeah, thanks.” He offered to help me get away from the waves, and I accepted. Thereafter, I sat on the sandy-textured shore and felt the minor waves as they came to me.
Later, my mother would enroll me in swimming lessons. Unfortunately, I flunked my grade and wound up in a private kiddie class, and eventually dropped out because 1) it was embarrassing and 2) I hated swim class.
Some years after that, I’d swim in a pool with my aforementioned cousin and wind up with a horrendous ear infection that sent me to the emergency room.
Now, I kinda avoid them altogether. Chlorine causes bumps all over my skin, and I’m allergic to all the sunblocks, because they all have coconut oil, or some kind of nut, and I can’t use over a certain SPF without frying out my skin.
So… now you know how I almost drowned in Texas [literally].
Have you ever been in a wave pool? Do you enjoy going swimming?