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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Lifeguard (11/09/06)

By Rose Spagnola


The weather was perfect for a trip to the beach even though it was nearly Halloween. My neighbor and I loaded up our children, her two and my three, into the van and headed out. Within minutes of arriving at beach, both Nathan and Joel were in the water. The rest of us started setting out our towels and sandcastle gear.

The two boys had just come into our home earlier that summer as foster children. Their natural swimming abilities made the local pool and beach a great choice for their tremendous energies and growing muscles. Between my husband and I and our friends, the boys went swimming three to four times a week. They seemed so happy living with us and had made great friends in the neighborhood already.

Before I had even sat down on my towel, Nathan was at my side, pointing to the waves. He said he had gotten caught in a rip tide and had barely been able to escape but Joel was still out there fighting to come in. I immediately scanned the water for Joel’s head. There he was, struggling and looking so small amongst the blue-green hills churning closer and closer to the rocks. I wasn’t familiar with the local waters and didn’t know about the rip tide near the rocks. My friend, Judy, quickly apologized for not mentioning it but I wasn’t paying attention; I was looking for help. I knew I couldn’t swim good enough to help either of us. I noticed a locked lifeguard shack nearby, like a white sentinel with its mouth taped shut. Dear Jesus, Help! As I started walking to the waves and praying, suddenly I saw a figure in the water walking toward me. Under his arm, like a football, was Joel. The gentleman nonchalantly carried the coughing, wide-eyed child to my side, set him down on the sand and said “Here’s your son.”

We all frantically tended to Joel’s needs, covered him with a towel, patted him on the back and hugged him. As soon as I determined the 9-year old was okay, I looked up to thank the man but he was no where to be found. We were a good 100 yards from any car, hill or shelter and no one but a sprinter could have gotten out of sight that quickly. In fact, ours was the only car in the parking lot at the edge of the beach when we arrived and that was still true now.

After talking about the incident, we realized that none of us had seen the man walk into the ocean or walk away. He had just appeared at Joel’s side, saved his life and then disappeared. I remember the rescuer as a very non-descript man of average height, average color with medium hair and a medium but healthy build. I remember him wearing old-style swim trunks, like from the 70’s, not the long, baggy kind the guys wear now. I would say the man looked about 35 years old. There was totally nothing significant about the man except that he saved my child’s life.

I thanked God many times that day for His mercy and grace. I realized that without quick action and special training, none of us on the beach could have saved Joel’s life.

I had witnessed a miracle and seen a supernatural lifeguard. When people ask if anyone has ever seen an angel, I raise my hand and say. “Yes, and sometimes they wear swim trunks.”

As a postscript, Joel preferred to swim in the chlorine waters of the community pool ever since that day. As soon as he was old enough, he became a summer lifeguard at our local pool. A couple years later, we finished the process to legally adopt him. He chose a new name for himself at that time; picked it out all by himself. Joel means “God is willing.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 11/18/06
Exciting story!
Donna Powers 11/19/06
A very compelling story and I can see why Joel changed his name. Good job.
Shanti Singh11/23/06
Wow, this gave me chills. Thanks so much for sharing!