1 Extreme panic
The first stage of drowning usually involves feelings of extreme panic as the person fights to survive. This kind of struggling lets the oxygen in the body run out fast.
2 A person is forced to inhale water
After a person loses his ability to hold his breath he will be forced to inhale water.
3 Forced to swallow more water
As a person inhales water he tries to cough or swallow the water, this leads to involuntarily swallowing more water.
4 Water enters the stomach first
When the person inhales involuntarily, after failing to hold his breath, water enters the stomach. In some cases the body blocks the path to the lungs to prevent water from entering.
5 In some cases water enters the lungs
In some cases water enters the lungs and fills it as the body fails to prevent water from entering inside it.
6 Burning feeling in the lung
Some survivors have described the feeling of drowning as tearing and burning in the lungs. Those feelings are followed by feelings of calmness and tranquility. This feeling could be the result of water entering the lungs. (See How does burning to death feel like?)
7 Water makes a person heavy
Water filling the stomach makes the body heavy and so it forces it to sink deeper.
8 The heart might stop
Under the effect of lack of oxygen a person's heart might stop.
9 Loss of consciousness
As oxygen runs out and carbon dioxide accumulates in the body loss of consciousnesses happens. This can take a different amount of time from a person to another. Death later happens after a person is unconscious. (See
Study: Consciousness after clinical death)
10 Some survivors reported feeling nothing
Some survivors of drowning reported feeling nothing at all and just waking up in the hospital. They said it was similar to some kind of blackout.
11 Some people lose consciousness fast
As a result of the extreme panic some people go unconscious very fast and so feel nothing at all while drowning,