I honestly think water is a bit overrated. >< Mainly because all the people who say water spazz out and go, "OMDFSFGSBLOODBENDINGYOBUTT" but don't realize bloodbending's only possible like 12 times a year, and illegal now. ._. But I don't really have nothing against it.
I would be a firebender -- it's quicker than earth (which seems kinda slow to me) and deadly. It can be switched between offense and defense quickly (as I see air as a more defensive element - but also the best one on a day - to - day basis).