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The Boy In The Pool

August 2003

When I was about ten years old, my parents signed me up for advanced swimming lessons at a natatorium in Dallas. The pool was an Olympic size with racing platforms at the shallow end and three diving boards at the deep end. All went well until the teacher took us to the diving boards to practice. I quickly picked up on how to use the lower boards and had no trouble diving off of them. Then we came to the high board. As I climbed the ladder, I was really excited about jumping. But when I got to the top of the board and looked down into the water, I saw something.

A boy was lying at the bottom of the eleven-foot deep end. He was face down and his body motionless. His skin was sickly white and somehow I got the impression that he had been down there for some time. I yelled to the teacher about what I saw, and everyone immediately got out of the pool and went into the drowning/lifesaving routine - only no body was found down there. During all of this, I climbed down the ladder and then saw that no one was on the bottom of the pool any longer. My teacher was a little put out with me, but excused it thinking maybe I really had seen someone down there who was swimming (others had been in the pool at the time) or that it might be something my imagination made up to keep me from jumping. In any case, that day's lesson was over.

At the next lesson, we started out by swimming laps in the lanes marked by black tiles on the pool's bottom. We started in the shallow end and swam to the deep end, then turned and swam back. When I got to the deep end, I was startled to see that same boy lying on the bottom of the pool. I stopped swimming and just stared at him with my face in the water. He was not moving at all. I swam to the end of the pool and got out. My teacher began yelling at me to get back in and finish my laps, but I told him I would not until that boy moved. He walked down to where I was standing and told me that I was going to have to get over my fear of deep water. I told him I had no fear of the water, but I didn't want that boy to be down there. He turned me toward the pool and told me to point out exactly where the boy was. I turned and looked, but I no longer saw the boy. My teacher threw me back into the water and told me to start swimming as the whole class was waiting for me. I started swimming, and once again saw the boy at the bottom of the pool. This time though, I kept swimming and got out at the shallow end to jeers from the other students.

As we continued the class that day, I kept having this feeling that someone was behind me just under the water. Whenever I turned, however, no one was there. When the time came to use the diving boards, I swallowed hard and climbed the ladder. As I had feared, I saw the boy down there again. I hesitated on the board, and the teacher and the rest of the class yelled at me to quit being a chicken. I decided to jump, but just as I was about to go off, I saw the boy roll over and grin at me derisively. I slipped and landed in the water in a painful flop. Despite the pain, I swam to the end and got out of the water as fast as I could. Everyone was laughing at me, but I only looked at the spot where I had seen that boy. He was gone.

After that, whenever I was in the pool, the feeling that someone was watching me or just behind me was almost too much for me to handle. Every time I turned around, however, there still was no one there. I refused to go off the high board ever again, and the teacher accepted my decision saying I must have a fear of heights. On one of the last days at that pool, we were again swimming laps (I insisted on being on the end so I would not swim over the spot where that boy always seemed to be) and as I was going into the shallow end from the deep, I felt someone grab my leg and pull me back. I went under the water due to the force of the pull and quickly turned around. That boy was holding my leg and giving me an almost menacing sneer/grin. I felt as if he was trying to pull me down to the bottom. His grip was strong and his intent clear to me. I knew he wanted me to stay under the water with him. I also felt a kind of rage from him. I kicked at him and somehow got free after what seemed to be a long struggle. I surfaced and got out of the pool. I was shaken, but now knew better than to tell the teacher what had happened. I said my leg had cramped up and I had thought I was going to sink.

I walked into the locker room, changed, went to the front of the building and vowed never to go into that pool again. When my dad came to pick me up, the teacher brought us both back into the pool area to discuss what was wrong. I was not going to tell them what really happened, so I just said I was through with this class and wanted to stop. As there was only one lesson left, my father finally relented and let me quit. As we were leaving the pool area, I turned and looked back at the water. I saw the boy just under the surface waving at me almost pleadingly. I turned and went home - and I never went back to that pool again.

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