16 laps until drowning: how I went beyond the extreme

Have you ever wondered what your limits are?

You might be working or training hard. But how much more effort could you put in? How much further could you go?

I wonder about that question.

Three days ago, I discovered an answer for me: 16 laps underwater.

I passed my limit after I touched the wall, asked “how far did I go?”, and heard an answer from a friend. She then watched as my head tipped backwards, downwards and unconscious into the water.

All I remember after the answer “16” was sitting in the Majorcan sun on the poolside. I was coughing a little and smiling at my friends. My right eyebrow felt oddly bruised, some of my friends were now also in the pool, and my friends were looking at me with expressions that didn’t match the situation at all.


My aims in our relaxed underwater laps contest in our apartment pool were:

  1. To win. Particularly to beat my close, competitive, and competent friend Andy, who had scored the furthest so far.

  2. Hit my target of 16 laps. This target was the most arbitrary and important target to me.

I achieved these targets. I also passed my body's limit, causing my conscious day to be 3 minutes shorter than usual.

I learnt:

that my limit is 16 laps. This is an undeniable limit that I’d passed.

I can really trust my friends. I turned from an independent adult to a total dependant in under 4 minutes.

Besides reducing your body's need to breathe, hyper-ventilating overrides your body's self-protecting mechanisms.

Death by drowning can follow.