Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"The Upside of Almost Drowning" with Jacqueline Gardner

What a special guest we have today -- Jacqueline Gardner, who's here talking about a very personal experience. 

I joined my first competitive swim team at age seven and went on to compete in that sport until I finished high school.  I don't remember feeling scared the first time I submerged my entire body under water, and some of my earliest memories involve being overwhelmingly excited to jump off the diving board.  Being 100% comfortable holding my breath and diving beneath the surface was always something that came naturally.

Except once.

During swim practice one morning, I was feeling the burn.  I was fourteen and I'd been attending practices twice a day for months.  Just as I pushed away from the wall at the deep end, my flexing calves where suddenly overloaded with stimuli.  Both muscles spasmed so violently that I was forced to grab each leg to somewhat relieve the pain.  I sank to the bottom of the pool.

I'd experienced muscle cramps before (Charlie horses as my grandpa would say) but nothing as painful as this.  I remember sinking to the bottom and screaming.  For a second I was surrounded by bubbles and when they all cleared, I realized I was out of air.  My dilemma: my lungs were slowly starting to burn but I was in too much pain to move.  Besides that I felt light-headed.  I went through a brief moment of panic.  My chest felt like it was gradually being crushed and my legs were practically on fire.

In my book MUTINY, one of the main characters Eric experiences something similar.  He's chained and tossed in the ocean for betraying his Chief Commander.  Eric eventually sinks to the bottom and finds out what it feels like to drown.  While writing that scene, I drew from this frightening experience, though I don't have the ability to regenerate like Eric does.

Just as my body started shaking, my coach realized what was going on and jumped in the pool.  He pulled me out and helped me work through the spasms with a chest full of oxygen.  Since then any sort of muscle twitch startles me. 

It's a little weird to say that that experience turned out to be helpful, but it did.  I'm very happy with the way the drowning scene turned out.  While reading back through it, I can almost feel that same sense of hysteria I once felt at the bottom of the pool.  I only went through a tiny sliver of what Eric goes through at the bottom of the ocean, but luckily Eric's 'special' abilities get him out of it.   

M.E.R. series, #1

Book Blurb:

Eric's life aboard a top secret stealth submarine as a member of the government’s M.E.R. program has been about discipline, cunning and survival. As both a soldier and a natural born regenerator, he can heal from any wound, but to stay alive he must accept a vein-burning serum that prevents his DNA from over-mutating.  In exchange Eric must follow his Chief Commander’s every order.  And never ask questions, no matter the assignment. 

When he goes ashore on his first solo mission he runs into a complication he didn't expect; Mariella, the target’s daughter.  She’s about to change everything 

About Jacqueline Gardner

Jacqueline Gardner works as a Story Editor for the production company, Labragirl Pictures.  Her love of storytelling began at an early age when she would make up stories with her grandmother before bedtime.  In early 2010, she completed her first novel and has been stuck on writing ever since.  She resides in Colorado and loves hiking, writing, fantasy fiction, and all things cupcake. 

Twitter: @Writer_Jacque 


  1. Love this post! Was it cathartic in a way to write using a real traumatic experience?

  2. What an incredibly frightening experience! Thank you for visiting, and for sharing.

    My cousin died two years ago -- drowning/brain aneurism. He jumped into a pool, and they think he had the aneurism then. I had eerily written a scene where a character thinks another is drowning the day before. I haven't used it yet. Too close still.