KENNEWICK -- Jean Theoret was ready to die.
He waited for the rescue team to arrive for him, and in reality, they were there pretty fast.
Theoret had just flipped the U-37 hydroplane on the first day of competition of the 2009 season, in Madison, Ind., on July 4.
The boat had landed upside down, yet by all accounts Theoret wasn't really hurt.
"I had nothing wrong with me physically," Theoret recounted while in Lampson Pits on Thursday afternoon. "My oxygen mask was on my face. I took my steering wheel off. But the tube itself that carries the oxygen to my mask had broken."
And the water started seeping in, as he sat inside the cockpit upside down. He was forced to swallow some of the Ohio River.
"It doesn't taste very good. It took two gulps of water and I blacked out," he said. "I drowned. The rescue team revived me. I was dead."
In all, it took the rescue teams roughly one minute to reach Theoret and extract him from the boat.
Never once, he said, did he freak out.
"I am a Christian," he said. "I'm not afraid of dying."
But it's taken him some time to recover.
He spent the next few days at the hospital in Louisville, Ky., where doctors and nurses watched for infections in his lungs from ingesting the dirty river water.
"Thank God I have my wife, kids and family to support me," he said.
He's in the Tri-Cities this weekend to support the U-37 team and his backup driver, JW Myers.
"We've got a good, fast team," Theoret said. "But it's an adjustment for him and the team. It takes some time to get used to a boat."
The team's plan is to have Theoret ready to drive in Seattle next week. But he hasn't been cleared by doctors yet.
"I'm getting back into shape," he said. "I'm walking, doing cardio and in the swimming pool. Nothing is wrong with me physically as far as internal damage. If it hadn't been for the air system to break, I'd be OK. Right now, I probably can't handle the pounding of driving the boat."