GEORDIE Shore's James Tindale has spoken of the terrifying times he nearly drowned as he vows to overcome a lifelong fear of deep water and learn how to swim.
The reality star's phobia began as a young boy when he had to be rescued in a Newcastle water park.
Insecurities around his body shape also kept him from swimming and stopped him from building his confidence in the water.
Speaking exclusively to The Sun, he said: "I was quite young and went with my friends, and I kind of went under the water, under this tunnel thing, and I just panicked, and that’s the worst thing to do, isn’t it? Because you just forget everything.
"And I started swallowing loads of water and stuff. It was awful. Luckily someone pulled us up and I managed to get out.
"That kind of stuck in my head and made me not want to do it."
Pool time was used as a reward at James's school, but he would misbehave in a bid to escape having to swim.
"When I was a kid I was actually quite chubby so I hated… I wasn’t confident, so I didn’t like walking around with just shorts on. I didn’t take my top off much.
"I was quite naughty, but I don’t know if I was naughty because I wanted to get out of it. It was classed as a reward, but because I was naughty I got out of it."
As the years passed James said he would get his friends to test the depth of pools for him before he would get in.
But when he went on a lads booze cruise on holiday last year, he once again got into difficulty in the water.
"I put off swimming for years until probably 2020, I think. I went on a lads holiday. You know the booze cruises, obviously everyone gets drunk, don’t they, then you stop off at a certain point and people are jumping off. All my mates were jumping off and were like 'haway, James. Jump off.' And I was like 'I don’t know if I’m a good swimmer, mind, so you’ll have to watch us'.
"Same thing happened. I jumped in and panicked. I had to be scrambled back to the boat. I was climbing on top of people to get out. Anything to do with open water or deep water, where I’m far away from sides, I absolutely hate it, it petrifies us."
Now aged 30 and with dreams of going on family holidays with any children he has in the future, James is keen to finally overcome his fear.
This week he has partnered with national governing body and charity, The Swimming Teachers’ Association (STA) for International Learn to Swim Week, and will have daily lessons.
He said: "Now I want to be able to overcome that fear. It’s pretty much the only thing in life I don’t feel I can do.
"As I’m getting older I’ll be wanting to have a family in a few years and it will be nice to take my kids to swimming baths and stuff like that cos I won’t be able to otherwise."
James was an original Geordie Shore cast member and returned in 2019 after a five year break.
While the show has changed and is arguably less raucous than its earlier days, James still has a lot of love for it.
He said: "The show’s completely different now. I absolutely love both sets of casts. At the start it was all new, no one cared about anything or what we’re doing, and we just went wild and enjoyed ourselves. Now we’re all more grown up, it’s enjoyable but it isn't what it was then. Now it’s a lot deeper our conversations are more meaningful."
Explaining how he is no longer the caner he once was, he continued: "I’m not a massive drinker anymore. I think most of the cast are like this. We’re not really casual drinkers. Over the years we’ve got into a routine. On Geordie Shore you’re out for three hours get absolutely hammered and go home, now if I was to go for a meal I’d be like ‘I’m not gonna have one, what’s the point?’"
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