CUH student overcomes fear of drowning with sharks


Domdom overcoming her fear of drowning with sharks circling her.

Jolica Domdom, a sophomore from Las Vegas, Nev. has been avoiding the depths of the water since the age of 9 years old.

It all started when her cousins, uncles and aunts decided to come over to her house and swim in her pool. Not knowing how to swim, Domdom stood and walked around the stairs in the shallow end. Thinking that the stairs went around the whole pool, she continued to walk towards the deep end. All of a sudden the stairs ended and she stepped off into the depths of the pool and slowly sunk towards the bottom. Luckily, her uncle was under the water so he swam over and saved her.

“Ever since that, I wouldn’t go in a pool deeper than 5 feet,” she said recently. “When I moved to Hawaii, the closest I would get to the ocean would probably be like 10 feet off of the shore.”

But, in honor of the extended Columbus Day weekend, she and her roommates decided to take a trip to the North Shore to swim with the sharks, an experience that would terrify most people. It took a bit of convincing on the roommates’ part to get Domdom to even begin to conceive the idea of going four miles offshore, to a place that is 700 feet above the ocean floor to swim with sharks.

“When are we ever going to get to experience certain things like this? I don’t want to look back in my life because there have been times in my life, even though I am only 20 years old, where I looked back and said I should have done that,” she said, gaining the confidence needed to embark on this incredible journey. “I don’t want to back out, that would be the worst. Saying that I would do something and then back out of it and then regret it later because it was so much fun. I don’t want to be a quitter.”

Domdom knew that as soon as the boat started going out four miles from shore, there was no turning back. With that, she made the best of the situation. “I was trying to think of it as a good experience,” she said. “I was looking at the ocean and how blue it was as well as the shore and how it was so beautiful.”

When it was time to get into the water, swarming with sharks, she took a deep breath and stepped over the edge of the boat and into the water, the same water that she had been frightened of for most of her life. In a matter of seconds, she mustered up all the confidence and courage she had in her tiny body to overcome her most terrifying fear.

Two Galapagos Sharks circling the waters of the Pacific Ocean.
Two Galapagos Sharks glide through the Pacific Ocean. (photo by Remi Kohno)

“Once I got in the water it’s one of those experiences where you have to see it,” she said, her voice filled with excitement. “I can tell you about it and show you pictures but you have to be in the water and you have to see how close those sharks get and how deep we were, over 700 feet deep and we would only see 100 feet deep.”

In less than 3 hours, Domdom had taken this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to overcome her fear of drowning as she went four miles off the coast and immersed herself into shark-infested waters.

“It was a rewarding experience because I accomplished my fear and I don’t know many people that can say they did what I did,” Domdom said. “I felt accomplished and proud of myself. I was afraid of drowning, getting bitten by a shark and being left in the ocean but it ended up to be a great experience.”