Holding My Breath

I can hold my breath for a long time—almost four minutes. That is, in the comfort of my bed, lying motionless, with up to a minute of hyperventilation beforehand. Even so, not breathing for three minutes and forty-five seconds is a rather impressive feat. (Ah, the happy hours I’ve spent, tucked away in my room with my stopwatch!) It usually takes several  tries to bring my breath-hold up to this level, and once I do, I usually stop (you have no idea how boring it is to sit and do absolutely nothing for three minutes).

When I started practicing my breath-hold, we were about to leave for the Bahamas, and planned to do plenty of spearfishing. I thought I was ready. I thought “bring it on, fish.” Yeah! No. The first time we went swimming off the boat, I took my watch to see how long I could hold my breath immersed in actual water. After hyperventilating for ten seconds, I managed to remain underwater for all of…drumroll…eighteen seconds. Pathetic.

We have been in the Bahamas for a month now, and we are still swimming off the boat. I take this time to practice my breath hold. It takes several tries, but I can get it up to one minute and twenty seconds. I also wear a ridiculously heavy weight belt that we happen to have for no particular reason. It feels really cool to stand on the sandy bottom, looking up at the waves eight feet above you, and not feel the need to breathe.

One day, while standing on the bottom, I had a brilliant idea.  I took a beach chair, weighed it down with weight belts, and set it next to the anchor. Then I took an empty kindle case and a coffee mug and set them on the chair. Then came the hard part. I took a deep breath, dove down, and sat in the chair. Then I had to put a weight belt in my lap to keep me from floating away, pick up the coffee mug and ‘book,’ cross my legs, and pretend to read normally. Meanwhile, Aaron, whose breath-hold isn’t worth jack, had to swim down and take a picture of me with the GoPro, all before I ran out of air. Amazingly enough, my plan worked! We got several pictures of me, relaxing at the bottom of the sea.

Deep Reading