A Life Almost Lost

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As I approached the tower for my first day as an Ocean Rescue lifeguard I thought I knew it all. Fresh out of recruit training and graduating in the top of my recruit class, I had the vision that I was invincible as a lifeguard. I climbed the freshly painted wooden tower, unpacked my gear, and settled into the somewhat uncomfortable plywood seat that I would be sitting on for the next eight hours. At first the water was relatively empty, with the occasional family or two entering to wade around. But by noon, the beach had started to become progressively busier, with well over one hundred bathers within the quarter mile of beach I was responsible for. It was at this exact moment that the confidence I had held earlier that same morning fell right through the cracks, and all the training I had persevered through in the previous weeks became completely useless.

It started out with a single bather to my north that appeared to be out past the point where they could touch, but were still comfortable and not in any need of my help. I figured I would just keep a close eye on them through my binoculars. About fifteen minutes later two more bathers swam out past the point of touching, one straight out in front of me and one to my south. By this point I was apprehensive and unsure of what to do. I looked at the bather to my north through my binoculars, and got what is known as tunnel vision. I became so fixated on watching this one individual and making sure that he was all right that I completely disregarded the other bathers. Seconds later, the dispatcher came on the radio frantically telling me to go on a rescue for the bather to my south. Caught up in the situation, I lost my sense of location, could not find where the bather was, and ended up missing the rescue. Fortunately the person made it back to shore, but this was a mistake that could have cost a life.

Looking back on my first day as a lifeguard, the mistake I made by missing a rescue is one of the greatest regrets of my life. But at the same time, being able to overcome this obstacle and return to the tower the next day has given me a great sense of confidence. I have learned that with hard work and the right attitude, it is possible to work through and overcome the most difficult of situations in life. Now as a senior in high school, earning a low grade on a quiz or losing one varsity tennis match does not bring me down, because I know that these things are small bumps in an unimaginably long and exciting road.





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