Douglas takes us through his near death experience at the Y.M.C.A. pool by detailing every little aspect associated to it. He details minutes of his emotional, mental and physical struggle with the paralyzing fear of being drowned in the water. The first person narration of the incident also helps us to associate with his experience more deeply.
Though he did not lose his wits initially, he panicked when his strategy didn't work. His feeling of suffocation, fear and losing hold on sense perceptions make the readers experience what he does. His eyes couldn't see beyond the dirty yellow water. His voice did not assist him. His nose and mouth could only manage to take water to the lungs. His limbs became paralyzed with fear and his mind dizzy. His desperation to save himself kept him struggling until he went down the third time and blacked out. All these details make the description vivid.