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Facing the Elements

Salome describes her life-altering underwater experience, and almost drowning.

So CJ is gone. We only have 11 in the house! I made it! We get up at 6, there is an e-mail saying "There is a ride downstairs. It's gonna be scary, take a deep breath!" We are not allowed to have absolutely any product on us. No lotion, nail polish, lip gloss, hair product! It has to be an underwater shoot! I'm not sure what I'm gonna do. I am not going home because I can't swim or float! I guess I'm gonna learn something really fast! I don't think I have ever even had my whole head underwater for more than half a second. I'm terrified!

So we finally, after a two-hour ride in Cadillac Escalades through the hills, arrive at a big white very modern house in Connecticut! I look through the windows and see very artsy beautiful photographs. Yay! We go to the backyard and there is Tyson and Nicole standing there wrapped in leather and fur and it's cold! Guess what they are standing by? A big pool! We are introduced to Howard Shatz. He comes over wearing sneakers, insulated sweat pants, and apolar fleece jacket. His eyes are icy blue and very king. As he shakes our hands he already knows my name. Hmm he must know I can't swim.

He tells us he's done underwater shoots for years. The most important thing is to listen to him and he will make sure we are safe and we will get a shot. We will have practice he will show how to breathe and he will take as much time as we need. It's 30-40 degrees and we are told to change into the bathing suits (in these port-o-potty size tents), two-piece itsy-bitsy Calvin Klein bikinis for the gals and Speedos for the guys. They have big fluffy robes so we're wrapped up and then wait for everyone to change. Then we wipe our feet on a towel and get in. We get our wish for a hot tub.

I end up being the only one left in the pool with Howard. I am literally panicky. He says all I have to do is be able to keep my head under the water for 20 seconds. Water goes in my nose and I feel like I'm drowning. I don't know how not to swallow water when it's in your mouth and nose and it's all around you. I feel helpless because i didn't know how to deal with this. I feel smothered, my chest feels tight. I want to cry. Yes, I know it's only water and I know it's just in my head but how the heck am I to get a calm sweet picture underwater when I feel like it's trying to kill me. After 30 minutes Eon the lifeguard told me to keep a little air in your lungs and nose and tilt your head down a little and it will help. After that I felt like I could maybe do it. Sandhurst says to slightly blow out and to control the water not to let it control me. Finally I get out not panicking anymore but just scared. This is the first time in my life I think I've ever had my whole body under the water for more than two seconds!

When it's my turn to shoot, Howard tells me I can hold on to the edge while I shoot. No way! I have to do this. It's a chance of a lifetime and i want a totally underwater fashion picture for my book. I'm still beyond tense. As soon as we start shooting I forget that I'm scared and realize this is a job and I want to be great. He tells me emotions and I convey them well even underwater! He said I was the best actor of the group. This is the best shoot so far for me. I feel like Howard should be a psychiatrist; he is so amazing to work with. He changed me from being petrified of water to wanting to keep shooting for hours! I feel like I just conquered a huge fear. This shoot has changed my life. If I can do this I should push myself and do many more things I think aren't possible. Howard and the whole experience is changing my life!
I feel sick from being cold all day.

Runway, we girls are fire guys are ice. My dress is amazing! It hugs my body like a glove, so hot. Perou's comment is that I had a horizontal movement in my hips. I'm girlfriend sexy not model sexy. Lose some butt! I get it! Gabriel gets sent home because they don't think he can take a great picture and they don't think he has personality. Bullshit. Gabriel has amazing humor, he is educated, has great manners, and look at his work he has done outside of this competition. He got screwed and portrayed totally wrong. Sandhurst wins immunity; he deserves it.

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