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Greg Long Recounts Almost Drowning - SURFING Magazine

Stashed in: Life Death Life Death, Tasty Waves!, Surfing

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"Standard two wave holddown"...there's nothing worse than thinking you are about to take a breath only to be pummeled by something bigger than a skyscraper right at the moment of relief.

Late in the afternoon, I dropped in too deep on the second of a five-wave set. I made it to the bottom of the wave, at which point the whitewater overtook me and pushed me deep. Knowing the potential gravity of the situation, I attempted to deploy my inflatable suit to help me reach the surface faster. It failed, and I was relegated to enduring the hold-down as I have for so many years, with the assistance of two well-trained lungs and a confident and relaxed mind.

The hold-down of the first wave was so long and brutal that I contemplated staying down, knowing there was a good chance I wouldn’t get to the surface for a breath before the next wave in the set rolled over. I decided to swim for the surface anyway. This was a pivotal decision that took what would have likely been a “standard” two-wave hold-down to one that nearly ended my life. As I struggled for the top, I was mere feet away from the surface when I received the full impact of the next wave. Any remaining breath was forced from my lungs and my body was shaken into a state of shock. I immediately found myself back in the abyss, but now with zero oxygen in my lungs. My body convulsed radically, desperately begging me to inhale, but I was still deep, and made the very conscious decision that no matter what, I wouldn’t. “I am fine; I am going to make it to the surface,” were the only thoughts I chose to know. I allowed my body to relax and my desire to breathe momentarily diminished, allowing me to stay conscious long enough to hear the next wave of the set roll over my head.

The power of positive thinking is very real, but so is the fact that there are physical limitations and universal laws that we must live by. I desperately needed to get to the surface and breathe. The turbulence of the third wave was impossible to swim against so I climbed my leash, hand over fist. Inch by inch I fought my way up, eventually reaching the tail section of my board, which was submerged 10 feet below the surface. Cramping, numbness and full-body convulsions returned. Any oxygen reserves remaining in my brain were exhausted and I couldn’t get a solid grasp onto my board, so I let it go, taking one last desperate stroke for the surface. It was at this point that I lost consciousness.

Well that's one of the most horrifying things I can imagine. Surfing is dangerous!

10/10 this is my nightmare tonight.  Thanks, man.

Well, it is Halloween season. Time to be scared. 

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