Fan­ning pulls plug on my sea pho­bia

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - With Chris McMa­hon chris. mcma­hon@ news. com. au

WHAT about Mick Fan­ning. I reckon it doesn’t get much more Aus­tralian than punch­ing a shark be­cause he was stop­ping you from shred­ding the gnar.

The would- be shark at­tack is some of the best view­ing I have ever seen, but it brought back some mem­o­ries of my child­hood I thought I’d re­pressed.

Mem­o­ries that re­veal I was a sook, but am will­ing to share with you.

I grew up in a coun­try town, hours from a beach and was ter­ri­fied of the ocean, but not for ob­vi­ous rea­sons.

The first time I went to the beach, I re­fused to go any­where near the wa­ter be­cause I thought some­one would pull the plug and I would get sucked down the drain.

I was stand­ing in the wet sand and felt the drag of the ebbing sea and screamed bloody mur­der for Mum to save me from go­ing down the drain.

Now, I know that’s ridicu­lous, but lis­ten to my flaw­less child­hood logic.

In my mind, the tide and the ebb of the ocean was the big boats out on the hori­zon pulling the plug.

Stupid I know, but I was cer­tain this would hap­pen and didn’t go any­where near the beach for a very long time.

It was about five years later and we went over to North Strad­broke Is­land for a fam­ily get­away, a trip that ru­ined Mo­nop­oly for me ( rarely played since, but that’s another story).

By then, I must have been eight or nine and my ocean con­fi­dence was slowly build­ing. I’d re­alised there was no plug in the ocean, but had been in­tro­duced to Jaws by a friend’s older brother dur­ing a sleep­over.

We’d been on Strad­die for ex­actly one day, we’d been at the beach swimming and car­ry­ing on like coun­try kids at the beach do. A great day was had by all. We’d just fin­ished a bar­be­cue when another fam­ily said there was a shark down on the beach and WE HAD TO GO CHECK IT OUT. So we legged the 50m down to the beach and here is the MAS­SIVE shark on the beach, peo­ple ev­ery­where, lov­ing it.

As we got closer, we saw why they were lov­ing it, this shark – and I did men­tion it was MAS­SIVE! – had been bit­ten, and when I say bit­ten, what I mean is, its whole side was miss­ing.

What­ever had bit­ten this bloody beast of the ocean, must have been mas­sive … ANDDDDDDDDDDDDD the ocean was ru­ined for me once again.

If there is some­thing out there that could do this to a shark, what would it do to lit­tle ol’ me. I “noped” the hell out of the beach again for years.

But see­ing Mick Fan­ning sur­vive a shark at­tack has given me con­fi­dence that if I ever did come across a shark, I would be able to give it the old rope a dope and sur­vive.

Thanks Mick, you’re a leg­end.

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