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

TITLE: Celestial Certification
By Catrina Bradley


“Me? Are you sure? You know I don’t swim that well, don’t you?” Leah was confused by Barb’s request. She had been working at the Green Bay Club all summer, cleaning up, working in the pro shop, driving the drink cart - minor stuff. But now Barb was asking her to stand in as lifeguard for the afternoon.

“I’ve seen you swim, you’re good enough. Besides, nothing ever happens.” Barb was late for a meeting, and fumbled through her purse searching for her keys.

“Don’t you have to be certified or something?”

Barb laughed. “Cammy’s not certified, and she’s been lifeguarding. She’s in bed with a nasty stomach bug and I need someone. Don’t worry about it. Aha! There they are!” She dashed out the door without a backward glance

Cammy was Leah’s best friend. Her mom had bought the Club last year and it had become Leah’s home away from home, not to mention a good place to earn some pocket money. Today was Leah’s day off, and she had only come to work on her tan. The forecast called for perfect tanning weather – a high of 92º and sunny. Leah left the clubhouse and reluctantly followed the sidewalk to the pool.

She picked up the net and started skimming the debris off the water’s shimmering surface. She had done this many times for Cammy, and the familiar routine soothed her rattled nerves somewhat. Guests began arriving just as she replaced the net on its hooks, and butterflies attacked her tummy. Holding her head high, she grabbed a couple of towels off the stack and strolled to Cammy’s chaise. She laid out the towels and settled in. It felt weird sitting in Cammy’s place, but she pretended like she belonged there. Can’t let anyone see how scared I am. I AM the lifeguard. BE the lifeguard. Wish I could have practiced.

The pool area started filling with people, and Leah’s anxiety grew. God, what am I doing here? I can’t swim.

‘Yes, you can.’

The answer wasn’t audible, but Leah heard it nonetheless

Not good enough. I could never save anyone.

‘Yes, you could.’

Leah considered it. She had seen in on TV. She pictured herself heroically diving into the deep end, plucking a child from the bottom, soaring back to the surface with an arm around her, and sidestroking one-armed to the side. Hmmm. Maybe. If I had to. She calculated how many strokes it might take her to get from the center of the small pool to the closest edge.

Every time a child jumped into the pool, Leah’s heart lurched. Her eyes never wandered from the activity.

“No running!” If you fell, you’d crack your head open and tumble into the water. I’d have to save you.

As the afternoon wore on, Leah grew more comfortable. Barb was right. Nothing ever happens.

‘Never say never.’

Right, God. Thanks for the reminder. Leah sighed, and turned over in the chaise, careful to keep her eyes fixed on the pool.

Aaaugh! There they go again! Why won’t these kids learn? A little girl chased her brother around the pool deck. “NO RUNNING!!” The blond urchins ignored her, giggling madly. Leah started to get up, intent on stopping the madness, when the little girl tripped over a discarded towel, lost her balance and, with a shriek, tumbled into the deep end.

Fear gripped Leah’s heart like a vise. As she flew to the pool, a memory verse from her childhood echoed in her head. ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ Jesus, give me strength now so I can do this.

Just as she had pictured herself earlier, Leah executed a perfect dive, and swam like a bullet to the floundering, sinking child. Grasping the struggling girl firmly around the chest with one arm, Leah kicked to the surface.

“Leah! Head’s up!” The donut from the pool fence splashed onto the water beside her, and Leah gratefully grabbed it with her free arm. Making sure the precious child’s head was above the water, she propelled them to the side of the pool where helping hands took hold of the coughing, crying, girl and pulled her from the water. Gasping, panting, Leah laid her head on the donut. My Lord, I never swam like that before. Thank you. I never could have done it without you.

‘I gave you strength. I also gave you help. Don’t forget to thank my angels.’

Scripture Reference: Philippians 4:13, NKJV

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This article has been read 1233 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 11/16/06
Really suspenseful, well-written.

Picky me--I found myself fretting about the legality. I think any pool would be very concerned about lawsuits, and would not allow swimming when certified lifeguards were not on duty. I could be wrong, though...

I love your main character's constant conversation with God--something we should all practice. Nice job.
James Clem 11/17/06
Riveting story! Excellent!
Joanne Sher 11/18/06
This was better the second time through! Great characterization and dialogue - and the perfect ending! Bravo.
Mo 11/18/06
Well done! (I thought it would end with her being inspired to become a certified lifeguard.)
Donna Powers 11/19/06
Very nice! I was definitely captivated by this story and enjoyed reading it very much. A very good job.
Allison Egley 11/21/06
Oh, I loved this. A bit predictable, perhaps, but I still loved it. I want to know who tossed her the life preserver ring.
Debbie Sickler11/21/06
I really enjoyed reading this and especially liked the true to life sounding dialog. Great job, very well written and enjoyable. :)
Leigh MacKelvey11/23/06
Congatulations on your Placing! Well deserved.