The time the lifeguard jumped in.

Michael Henry
Writers’ Blokke
Published in
3 min readMay 16, 2021
Photo by Mieke Campbell on Unsplash

Okay, transparency time.

I accidentally almost drowned, alongside both of my children.

I’m not sure if I was going to drown, but something happened that involved a lifeguard.

It’s Sunday, and my wife is still sleeping after church, the kids are restless, and I’m Superman!

To keep the house quiet, I decided to take the kids swimming. But one thing: I can’t swim or save anyone if anything happens to me when we’re at the pool.

So, I have grown accustomed to standing in waist-deep water, nothing else — except for this one time.

My son, ten, at the time, is what lifeguards call an “ugly swimmer.” They tend to watch him like a hawk.

He resembles an inflatable air tube dancer at a used car lot, but he can swim. And being an energetic ten-year boy, the kiddie pool, where I host my 5-year daughter, isn’t going to cut it.

So I have to trust his ability and the lifeguards to let him go off on his swimming adventure alone.

Alone with my daughter, we stand there splashing water. All the young mothers are doing similar things. The sounds of young kids screaming, the smell of chlorine, the temperature of the water feel my sense. I am alive and experiencing it all–life is good.

But, for some odd reason, we humans can’t stand still for long. In the blink of an eye, things can go from “sugar to shit,” as the old folks say.

My daughter was getting bored with my caution. She wanted the surrounding thrills, and I was in the slow lane, driving too slow for her. She is ready for more, like her brother.

Not one to disappoint, I decided to pick her up on my hip and start on our journey. My son is wading in the middle of the public pool — I walk towards him. Every step I took, the water rose a few inches.

My son seeing me break out of my shell gets excited. He’s drawn to me — and I to him. About ten more steps we meet.

He clings to the other open hip. Now I have two heavy yet buoyant kids attached to me — as I muscle them through the water.

But now the water is chest height. I continue walking, two kids in my ear hypnotizing me into a trance. My kids are using peer pressure to get me to keep going deeper. “Go, Go, Go!” they chanted in unison.

It’s simple math.

I am 5' 9.5" (1.75 m), and the pool is 5' 8" (1.73 m). There are 5 inches (ca. 13 cm) between the top of my head and the bottom of my nose. That makes, 5' 4" (1.63 m) manageable depth for me.

Now, I am at the 5' 6" (1.68 m) mark. My head tilted towards the clouds, breathing deeply, I’m in control — a half of step later: It happened, I’m underwater.

I panicked, setting in motion a series of events that changed my life. Everything went dark; I dropped my daughter and started grabbing onto my son. Luckily, my daughter had on a life jacket I forced her to wear 10 minutes earlier.

All I could hear was “Dad, Dad, …” And a lifeguard in his teens saying, “don’t fight, don’t fight.” He used his skill to bring me to the side of the pool.

And, the lifeguard jumped back in the pool after my “ugly swimmer” son. Repeating the same drill, “don’t fight,” and dragged him to the side also. My son is looking dumbfounded, “What happened?”

To this day, he thinks it was him that sparked the lifeguard’s actions. But it was most likely me. I thank the lifeguards for the quick response.

After the lifeguard took a report, I was ready to go. But I realize that immediately leaving the pool could leave traumatic memories. I wanted us all to “get back on the horse” and not fear water.

So we got back into the kiddie pool — all of us. The entire park stared; all this happened as my wife napped. Embarrassed. 😳 😞

Lesson learned. Next time, my wife takes the kids to the pool. Just Joking… seriously, I have invested in swimming lessons and plan to continue until I can save myself or someone else.

--

--

Michael Henry
Writers’ Blokke

Writer + Creative + Family Guy. At the moment, I’m in the moment. — Mike Henry