I would have been quaking in my boots but shoes were strictly prohibited by the pool. So I guess you could say I was quaking in my suit – my bright yellow one with the red polka-dots.
“I think I’m having convulsions,” I whispered to my sister, Jane. “What if I get a cramp and drown?”
Jane rolled her eyes my way. “I don’t know how to swim either but you don’t see my knees shaking. Besides,” she added, “it’s kinda late to back out now.”
She was right; the lifeguard-slash-swimming instructor was walking toward us with a clipboard and a life preserver. His arms were massive and I absurdly thought that if he painted them orange, they would look exactly like the inflatable “swimmies” my nephew wore when we went to the beach.
“Hello, ladies. I am Sven.”
I felt a sharp jab in my ribs. “Now aren’t you glad I talked you into this?” Jane said slyly, under her breath.
Sure, easy for Jane to say; she was married. She could afford to look like a dork in front of a good looking guy. I found myself wondering what my brother-in-law would say if he knew that Hercules was moonlighting as his wife’s swimming instructor.
“I am certified lifeguard. You drown, I save. I teach you to swim so you do not need saving.”
Suddenly, I heard a splash and a woman’s voice ring out. “Help! I’m drowning! Sven, save me!”
Sven didn’t even glance her way.
“Aren’t you going to save her?” someone shouted.
Sven sighed. “That is Carmen. She passed class three times. She not drown.”
Jane and I exchanged looks. This woman was actually faking a drowning so that Sven would come to her rescue!
Not that I could blame her, of course.
“I need helper.” Sven looked around. “You.” He pointed in my direction. I cranked my head every which way and prayed that he was indicating someone else – anyone else. But all eyes were focused on me.
“Oh... I’d rather not. How about her?” I asked, shoving my sister from behind.
Sven shook his head. “Use ladder into water. I meet you in shallow part.”
I trembled as I inched my way forward. I considered slipping on the wet tile on purpose. The pain might have been worth not making a fool of myself in front of this Fabio look-alike. Carmen, who had given up her drowning act, now stood, dripping wet, blocking the ladder. She reluctantly stepped out of my way and shot eye-daggers at me as I descended into the water.
Sven hopped in from the side. “Your name?” he asked, looking into my eyes.
“J-Jill,” I said, looking back into his.
“Okay, Jill, you can do this,” he said.
I felt faint but didn’t know if it was because of my fear of the water or the scent of Sven’s cologne.
“Ladies, in moment you will choose partner and take turns pulling each other with life ring. One holds on – like this – while other pulls. This gets used to water and feel of floating.”
I held on to the life preserver while Sven pulled me around the water like a little child, my legs dangling like two strands of spaghetti. Part of me wanted to shout, “wheeee----“ but the other desperately longed to wrap my arms around Sven, who undoubtedly would be safer (and more fun) than a flimsy, Styrofoam device. But I dismissed that idea after considering the possibility that Carmen might sneak up behind me while Sven was looking the other way and dunk my head under water. I’d watched enough crime shows to know jealousy was a huge motive for murder.
After getting through the class with minimal embarrassment, Sven asked me out. Jane credits herself for this because she’s the one that dragged me to swimming class in the first place. I’m happy to give her the credit and even happier to have my own personal lifeguard on hand.
I am proud to say I graduated with flying colors. Although I wouldn’t be joining a swim-team any time soon, I felt confident that I could get to the edge of the pool if the raft I was sunbathing on ever tipped over. Of course, that wasn't much of an issue anyway with Sven around...
Footnote: As for Carmen, she finally gave up the swimming lessons but the acting practice came in handy. The last I heard, she ran off to NewYork where she’s starring on Broadway.
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