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In at the Deep End

by  Cornelia

Posted: Friday, June 22, 2012
Word Count: 993
Summary: This is a tale with a twist that I've written with TWN in mind

‘Don’t tell me about certificates, lad; certificates count for nothing. It’s experience you need when it comes to safety!’ The chief swimming instructor frowned at Brackley Leisure Centre's latest recruit.

Standing by the pool in his T shirt and swim shorts, Sam inhaled the familiar smell of chlorine, his ears ringing with the shrieks coming from the shallow end. He’d dreamed of this day for months.

For the past year, Sam had spent every spare minute at the pool, when he wasn’t at college or working on his assignments. When he passed his instructors’ exam, his mum wept, his dad had bought him a drink and as for his gran – she’d flung her arms round his neck and said he was the first in the family to be certified.

‘I mean it in a good way,’ she joked.

He’d passed the job interview; now all that remained was to pass the induction. ‘Report at 10am sharp’ it said on a card that arrived the day before, and Sam made sure he was early.

‘Just hope you don’t get Briggsy’, said June, the pony-tailed instructor he hoped to work with soon. ‘He hates trainees.’

Sam’s smile faltered when he spotted the name badge above the logo on Mr Briggs’s blue T-shirt, stretched so tight over his brawny chest the three waves were almost straight lines.

‘I suppose you think you’ll start at the top, go straight on the board. I don’t mean the diving board, either!’ Briggsy laughed so hard his name badge wobbled.

Sam smiled politely. ‘Good one, Mr Briggs. Board, diving board!’

Briggsy looked at him suspiciously, and then decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.

‘This is as high as you go on your first day.’ Briggsy pointed to the tall chair standing a few feet from the edge of the deep end. ‘And you keep your eyes peeled for trouble.’

In the spectators’ gallery, young mums looked fondly down at the infants’ pool, where June was teaching a beginners’ class.

Molly was more anxious than most, because her Harry was in the big pool. He was too old for the beginners’ class, and he’d passed his twenty yards badge. All the same, he’d be safer in the shallow end.

Then she spotted Harry among the lane swimmers, his skinny arms leaving a frothy wake.

Briggsy wasn’t finished with Sam. ‘Which of this lot are most likely to need assistance?’ he barked.

Sam tried to remember the text-book answer as he surveyed the swimmers. ‘Well, that old codger over there - he might be a liability.’ As soon as he saw Briggsy’s face Sam knew it was the wrong answer. The man he was pointing to was about the same age as Briggsy.

‘Wrong!’ yelled Briggsy. ‘It’s the youngsters you need to watch.’ He glared towards the shallow end and blew on his whistle as he gestured at a youngster about to take a running jump into the pool.

‘Sorry, Mr Briggs.’ Sam hoped his chances hadn’t been scuppered by his reply. Then, to Briggsy’s astonishment, he dived into the pool.

‘What the…’ Briggsy opened his mouth but no words came out, as Sam’s strong arms and shoulders propelled him towards the swimmer he’d pointed out. Now the elderly man no longer swam forward but thrashed at the water and uttered faint cries.

He was about to go under when capable hands seized him, brought his head up and turned him onto his back. With his left arm under the man’s armpit, Sam held his chin above the choppy water while his other arm struck out towards the side.

With Briggsy’s help, they soon had the man lying on the tiles, where he lay still. Sam removed the man’s goggles and swim cap.

‘Come on, lad. Don’t just stand there gawping.’

Sam sprang into action. He turned the man into the recovery position, on his side with his arm above his head, and struck him between the shoulder blades. After coughing sharply, the man took a shuddering breath and sat up.

With his arms across his bent knees and his head down, he took several more wheezing breaths and then lifted his head.

‘Young man, I can’t thank you enough. You saved my life.’ He turned to Briggsy. ‘This youngster deserves a medal!’

‘We train them as best as we can, Sir!’

'Trust Briggsy to try to take the credit,' June muttered to Sam. She’d left her young charges on a bench and come over.

‘Wait here and I’ll just fetch the incident book,’ Briggsy said, importantly.

The gallery spectators had filed down the stairs and the mothers were collecting their shivering infants.

Molly approached the rescued man and scolded, ‘Harry! I asked you not go out of your depth. You nearly scared me to death.’ She put her arm round him.

When Briggsy re-appeared carrying a clipboard he beamed at Sam.

‘You’ve passed your induction and no mistake! Now you all go and have a cup of tea in the café with these two and I’ll take over here. ’ He handed the clip board to Sam. ’I’ll trust you to write down the particulars.’

June’s admiring glances didn’t go unnoticed by Sam as they headed for the café area. ‘That was one in the eye for Briggsy!’ she said, squeezing Sam’s hand. ‘Maybe he’ll think twice in future before he says certificates count for nothing.‘

As they sat with steaming mugs at a cafe table, Sam turned to Molly. ‘Gran, I suppose you saw the card with the induction time on it when you called to see Mum yesterday. As for you, Granddad, I never thought you’d pull a stunt like that, just to make me look good on my first day.’

‘It was no stunt, Sam,’ said his grandfather. Your gran was right. I shouldn’t have gone into the deep end. I got a terrible cramp, and you swam up just in time. Thanks, lad!’