This is the story about how I almost drowned to death. The worst day of my life and the man that saved me.
Me and my wife went down to Lights Beach in Denmark for a casual swim. Thinking it would be like any other day. Oh boy was I wrong. We swam in the pools for a little bit before deciding to go into the main beach, it was quite choppy but we weren't going to go in far. So we swam out to about waist high. At first I started to get pulled a little bit I didn't think much of it, but as soon as my feet could no longer touch the ground I didn't notice how quickly I was being pulled out. The speed was ridiculously fast, in the space of only a few minutes I had traveled almost 50-100 metres in a rip. I tried swimming sideways out of it but I wasn't making much progress because it turned out to be a whirlpool rip along the rocks. That's when I realised I was in trouble and started screaming at Maria for help.
At this point I had traveled almost 150 metres out to sea, the rocks where Maria was at the time was now long gone in the distance. This feeling of being completely powerless was the most horrible feeling in the world. I realised at this moment....I think I am going to die.
At this point I had completely ran out of energy. I was exhausted and the waves out this deep were bigger, I managed to duck under a few to begin with but now that I had been swimming nonstop I had no energy and I started getting dunked and tumbled around underwater for what seemed like forever. The only way I could survive at this point was to reach the surface with whatever energy I had left and then float on my back for 15 seconds or so until the next wave slammed me back underwater.
All I could think at this moment, was I can't believe I'm going to die like this. I can't believe this is it. I have never been so terrified in my entire life. At the time I actually remembered a study about mice that when left in water would drown after a certain amount of time, but when they were taken out just before they drowned and put back they managed to keep lasting almost 10 times longer. I just kept trying to think about that fact.
This didn't last long though, eventually all energy was gone and as the wave hit me I just tumbled underwater and had given up and decided I was going to die. I remember being underwater for a good 30 seconds before being pushed up, at this point I was getting water in my lungs, I coughed water up when I hit the surface, the adrenaline was wearing off and I couldn't even lift my arms. They felt like rocks now.
Luckily for me Maria had slammed into the rocks herself, she sliced open her leg at the time and was bleeding but she was out. She was able to run down for help. Screaming at the people on the beach. I didn't know any of this was going on at the time though I was just thinking this was it.
She found a man called Adam Cook who was a good swimmer and they went to the top of the rocks to look down out at me. I hadn't noticed but the current had slowly pushed me back in luckily! I was now closer to the rocks gasping for life. Adam Cook jumped into the water with the life saving buoy.
I'll never forget the moment he reached me and got the ring around me. I couldn't believe it, I was like holy crap I am not going to die today. He managed to keep pulling us all the way to the beach and as I stumbled out and my legs hit the sand they went jelly and collapsed under me as that was it, all the energy remaining gone. I threw up water coughing it all up as every muscle in my body was shaking from exhaustion and adrenaline.
They managed to get me up to an ambulance and we went to hospital and the rest is history. To this day I have huge amounts of anxiety about going into the water, I have tried to get over my fear and gone into the beach a few times but only very shallow. I struggle to go in any deeper anymore. I don't know if I ever will again.
To this day I can't believe how lucky I am to be alive. If it wasn't for Maria hitting the rocks, we might both be dead. If Adam Cook wasn't there to jump in and save me, I'd be dead. If I didn't get pushed back in by the current I'd be dead. So many factors made me lucky.
It really makes you appreciate life with a new found appreciation....and hate the beach with a new found passion.
That's when ABC news contacted us to do an interview and take photos with Adam Cook. This was great because I wanted to thank him and bring recognition to him saving me.
When our local news station contacted us to take photos at the beach I won't lie, I got a huge amount of anxiety being back there so soon. It was hard, very hard. I was quite traumatized but at the same time it was important to do this to honour the man that saved my life.
We did the usual posing around and taking photos which always feels a bit bizarre but I'm glad we were able to raise awareness of how dangerous the rips can be in that particular beach so at least something good came of it.
Thanks Adam Cook and Maria Erkelens for saving my life.
Also damn you beaches and rips. Damn youuuuuu.