Breathing Underwater can be difficult for anyone and especially for Nick it was not easy the week after he slapped his ex-girlfriend Caitlin. Coming back to school having everyone staring at him and having no friends. A significant scene where Nick feels safe breathing underwater is when he enters his English class and on the blackboard someone had written “GO NICK! BEAT YOUR GIRLFRIEND!” Nick shoves his backpack under his desk and grips his desk sides. “I want to bolt, if I go ballistic, they’ll think they’re right. Be Cool. Mario’s deep-breathing exercises and his rules rise, unbidden, in my mind. I think of breathing underwater”
Not only is Nick abusive but he also is controlling toward Caitlin. Zack's Thanksgiving weekend came up and Nick, Caitlin and all their friends are going to Key West. They all decide to go swimming, Nick describes underwater “Gray and bright at the same time. Breathing through a snorkel, all you could hear is your own snorkel-enhanced breathing in your ears. Breathing was unimportant.” Nick feels safe when he is breathing underwater, as if he has nothing to lose or worry about.
Nick goes through an internal battle just to fight the violence inside him.