I spent 2 months on Oahu for an intensive study with a tai chi master. I also enjoyed bodysurfing so engaged it often. One day on the north shore a storm was coming in. It wasn't the season for the big 30-footers for which it's infamous, but they were about 15-20 footers. I had been instructed by a local what to do if I got tossed, and fortunately I listened carefully. I'd already ridden a few 15 footers well but then I caught a 20 footer. I was riding it well, staying ahead of the break when it instantly broke out of rhythm and I was thrown head over heel. Round and round I went, several times, even though I tried to go in sideways so as to avoid such a possibly calamitous roll, since if I were to hit bottom on my head like that, even into the sand instead of the coral, I could easily break my neck. I was lucky I was in deeper water so that didn't happen.
However, I was thrown down under pretty deep by the time I quit rolling. And it was hazy from the bubbles and I couldn't tell which way was up for a few seconds. I finally figured it out when I saw another big wave break across the surface so I swam up toward it. And it seemed to take forever, as my air was running out. I didn't have time to take a deep breath, given the sudden and unexpected break that threw me under. It must've taken about 10 hard strokes to break the surface and the very moment I did another big wave came crashing down on me and down I went again. Down, down, down. Same story again, only I didn't roll. I realized it must've been going on a minute I'd been under, as I was starting to feel the oxygen starvation. Only due to the circumstances I didn't experience beauty and glory but panic and dread, as I might very well die from this. Many had under similar circumstances.
I again finally made my way back to the surface to yet another big wave about to break, only this time I had enough time to dive under it so didn't get pushed down. Then I had enough time to swim quickly back in, riding the white water from the waves that were breaking further out. The strangest emotion hit me though once I was out of danger. I just started laughing and laughing so hard to the point of crying. The friend I was with was worried when I got sucked under and came rushing over, thinking I was gone for good. He couldn't figure out why I was reacting that way. I can't say for certain why either, other than I literally stared death in the face and survived. And it was really fun.