We were on a school trip to an outdoor pursuits centre staying near Bala Lake in North Wales and it was our group's turn to try canoeing. After a brief lesson on how to get in, row and, importantly, how to right the canoe by rolling it if we capsized, we were allowed to put our new skills into practice on the lake. My friends, Sian and Cheryl, and I stayed close together as we paddled further away from the shore, occasionally flicking water at each other with our oars and generally having fun and chatting about the cute camp supervisor we all had a crush on. At some point, Sian turned to me and dared me to capsize my canoe.
'No chance!' I said.
Then Cheryl joined in 'Go on. I'll give you 50p.'
'And me,' offered Sian.
'Okay then, you're on,' I said, rising to the challenge. I started rocking my canoe from side to side until I gained enough momentum to swing myself under the water. It should have been simple enough to then do as I had during the training session and lever myself back out the other side with a push of the oar. Unfortunately, it didn't work. I tried again. Nothing. I started to panic, thinking I was going to die. The water was so cold and I couldn't hold my breath much longer, it felt like my lungs would burst. I tried to wriggle out of the canoe but I was stuck. Frantically, I scrabbled around under the water, desperately trying to twist, push and manoeuvre myself upright. At last, something worked and I emerged, gulping for air and traumatised.
'Thank god for that! We were so worried!' said Cheryl.
'You're not the only ones,' I said. 'I couldn't get back up.'
'Are you okay?' Sian was searching my face and looking very pale and shocked herself.
'I'm okay, but you two owe me £1 and I don't think I'll be going canoeing again in a hurry,' I smiled.