In late August, I went out on my board to do something I had done hundreds of times this summer but little did I know, disaster would strike. Hurricane Henri was roaring up the coast at this time, with an expected landfall on Long Island. I knew the water would be rough, so I asked my dad to fetch me my duck fins from the car. While I was waiting, I became anxious and decided to go in without the fins. My goal was to catch 3 waves then head back to my chair. My cousin Rachel, her two kids, and my sister Molly were the only people on the beach except for a few families. Rachel tends to be very anxious about the ocean. I promised her I would be careful. Once I got out, the water was perfect. It was light blueish green with a temperature that made you feel like you were on Oahu. I kept my attention towards the ocean at all times because if I were to look away for just a second, a wave could crash down onto me, and I could get “tombstoned.” I started noticing a heavy push and water change in the water around me. I didn’t think much of it until I started hearing a whistle. I looked back and saw how far I had drifted away from the beach. I panicked for a second until I realized some things my dad has always preached to me.
Number one is when you are about to panic about something, make a checklist to get you back into reality. Number two is all the things my dad has told me about the ocean since I was young. So after I thought for a second, I devised my checklist.
- Take big breaths
- Center Yourself
- Swim Sideways
- Swim Fast and hard
The checklist brought this feeling of comfort; at that moment, others would panic, I stayed strong. I felt in the moment like a navy seal. The only thing I was worried about was the lifeguard coming to get me because there would be no way for her to save me due to the size of the waves and the strength of the current. I slowly made my way back to shore, which was prompted by my family losing their minds thinking they lost me. Rachel then told me the lifeguard wanted to speak with me. She made it seem like I was going to get yelled at, but the lifeguard said I was the first person to ever get out of a Riptide safely, and she saw I was doing the right thing, which comes from my checklist, so she didn’t feel like it was necessary to do a rescue. She then proceeded to ask me if I was a local since I handled the situation so well. After that, I went back to our chairs to get yelled at by Rachel for scaring her, but my dad was very proud because of things he has taught me and shown throughout the years were used to save my life most likely.