My Tongue Got Stuck—Really? You Didn’t Do That, Did You?

When I worked as a camp superintendent, my responsibilities were quite varied. One of which was maintaining the camp swimming pool.

Now I am a decent swimmer, when on the surface that is. But I have no leg strength for diving. My strength was with my arms. I could swim fairly long distances, several laps up and down the swimming pool, with not much effort, but don’t ask me to dive to the bottom of a swimming pool. That would be a huge problem.

So, when a bunch of leaves piled up at the bottom of the deep end, I was in trouble. How could I get those leaves out of the pool? I did not have a long handled dipper that I could use to scoop up the leaves.

I tried several times to swim to the bottom and scoop up the leaves. Every time I reached the bottom, and I stopped using my hand to get there, so I could grab the leaves, I would immediately bob right back to the surface. My legs were just not strong enough to keep me down there.

Being the “creative” person I am, I decided to tie a rope onto a concrete block, and throw it to the bottom of the deep end. That way, I reasoned, I could swim to the bottom, hold onto the rope with one hand and gather the leaves with the other hand. Sounds good doesn’t it?

However, when I got to the bottom and started trying to scoop up the leaves, I ran short of breath, and had to surface. So I tried taking several deep breaths before trying again, hoping that I could then hold my breath longer. Didn’t work. Not one to give up, I tried various ways with no success.

Finally, I decided that I needed a way to breathe while down there. I never had been snorkeling before, but it seemed like that might be the solution.

So I gathered up one of the garden hoses that I had plenty of, and brought it to the pool. I tied one end onto the fence surrounding the pool and stuck the other end in my mouth, and practiced breathing through the hose. GREAT, it works, so now it’s just a matter of swimming to the bottom, with a hose in my mouth.

I jumped into the pool, and put the hose in my mouth and proceeded to dive to the bottom. Immediately after going under the surface, my tongue “jumped into the hose” and stuck there. I had to surface again.

Confused, I thought I just needed to control my tongue better. Surely with a little effort, I could keep my tongue in my mouth, and out of the hose. Made sense to me,

So I tried again, jumped into the pool, put the hose in my mouth, and CONCENTRATED on not allowing my tongue to stick into the hose. Down I went, and immediately my tongue “jumped into the hose” and stuck there.

Finally it dawned on me that the pressure on my body a short distance under the water was more than the air pressure about water, and there was no way I was going to be able to overcome that difference in pressure. There was no way to keep my tongue from getting stuck in the hose. Now I know the difference between snorkeling, and diving with air tanks.

That really did happen.

I don’t remember how I finally got the leaves out of the pool, but it was not by me going to the bottom to remove them.

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