Cold water is scary. Really cold water with ice on top is extra scary.
Once you’ve fallen through the ice, and the water has you in its grip, it quickly robs you of your ability to fight. In a few short minutes, it makes you clumsy and slow and sleepy and disorientated, until you can’t even try to save yourself. It’s a predator that makes you calmly accept your death.
For as long as I could remember, one of my top fears—a break-out-in-a-cold-sweat-even-thinking-about-it fears—was getting trapped under the ice. The idea of pounding on an unbreakable frozen layer while not being able to breathe… That’s the stuff of nightmares.
So why, exactly, was I standing on a frozen reservoir, just feet from a hole cut in the ice, preparing to jump into thirty-two-and-a-half-degree water?
Sadly, I have a tendency to believe people when they say, “C’mon! This’ll be fun!” I’ve gotten suckered into countless chores (“Let’s all spring-clean the boarding stable. It’ll be fun! It won’t be an all-day hell of grime and drudgery.”), activities I should have avoided for my own safety (“Let’s leave the main, well-marked path and go on this narrow, rutted trail to nowhere. You won’t flip your ATV and escape injury only by flinging yourself off in an emergency dismount learned from riding horses. It’ll be fun!”), and hours of discomfort (“Want to volunteer to help with SWAT training? It’ll be fun! You’ll get stuck crouching in a dirty back bedroom surrounded by dead Asian beetles and rat traps because it’s the only spot in the house with enough cell reception to allow you to text with the negotiator.”) (Okay, oddly enough, that one really was fun).
I believe this is part of the reason I was at the reservoir with the dive team, shivering with nerves, dressed in a very unflattering dry suit (no, I do not have pictures. Did I mention the “very unflattering” part? All photographic evidence has been deleted and/or burned), about to face my lifelong fear. Someone had mentioned the phrase that is my kryptonite: “C’mon! It’ll be fun!”
“Everyone in the water!” the chief bellowed.
So I jumped.
Want to read a story about ice rescue divers?
HOLD YOUR BREATH (Rocky Mountain Search & Rescue Book #1)