As the instructor put me in that choke hold on my second to last day of swim instruction I knew I broke the one rule I tried so hard not to. “Get the hell out of my pool” he yelled. I dangled there in the middle of the pool wondering how this man could hold me in a chokehold while keeping both of us afloat. “You weak bitch, get the fuck out of my pool”. As those words echoed through the empty olympic sized pool room I was let go, left to reach the side of the deep end under my own power.
Already a month and a half in Marine Corps boot camp I was use to the abuse. This was different, I could handle all the physical punishment on the land. The countless push ups, and being forced to roll around in sand pits at 5 am before breakfast. Being in the best shape of my life at the time there was only one thing that could bring this fear over me. Up until boot camp I could count my exposure to bodies of water on one hand. Growing up in the middle of Queens, NY I rarely encountered a pool. Although my family moved to upstate New York, to a high school that did have its own pool, I wasn't forced to use it.
At the end of my senior year of high school while most of my friends were visiting and picking colleges I was preparing for boot camp. Everyday I ran countless miles and did numerous pushups getting my body ready for the three months of pain I was about to endure. Not being the biggest or strongest kid in high school most of my friends would tell me I was crazy. Told me that choosing the hardest boot camp out of all the branches was a death sentence and that I would be back in a couple weeks from failling out. Once my friends learned I couldn't swim the negative comments seemed to never stop. During the countless end of the year parties I would sit in the shallow end, and not even get into the pool. “By definition Marines are amphibious” my best friend would tell me almost every day. Although I had countless offers from friends to help me learn how to...
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