My husband was watching the David Blaine "Drowned Alive" program the other night, so I sat down and watched as well. A niggling thought kept intruding on my consciousness..."doesn't drowned mean...well, dead?" During those minutes, which passed more quickly for me than for poor David, the thought kept interfering. Strange, isn't it, that during an event so dangerous, a trivial thought will "drown" out others. For drown can also mean to drench or deaden awareness or muffle as stated in this dictionary entry. It is true that all of those definitions can apply to David Blaine's stunt, but still the oxymoronic title bothered me.
Then there is the Stevie Smith poem: Not Waving but Drowning that contains the line, "I was much further out than you thought" and may apply to the risk-taking side of Blaine's personality. For myself, the most horrifying aspect of the entire event is the length of time spent with nothing to do but concentrate on breathing. I'd go out of my mind. That would be true boredom. A week. Under water. With nothing. To do.