The Big Test This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   The instructor herded us into the staff room of the Boys' Club pool. "Stay in here until we call your name," we were told. The room was small and cramped with nearly 30 bodies stuffed in it. Most of us were sitting where we could and studying, while the rest were simply standing and trying not to get nervous. No one really talked. It was time to "sink or swim," literally.

We were all taking the Red Cross lifeguard course. It was our last day - the day of the final test. I was nervous about having to do the final scenario when we actually had to pretend someone was drowning and save them. Other people were nervous about the final written test, but it was this part that got to me. What if I couldn't do it? What if the person I was supposed to save "died"? I'd fail the course and have to take it again to become a certified lifeguard, which I really didn't want to do. Four Sundays in a row, sitting inside and learning about lifeguarding had been bad enough. But to have to do it all again?

Suddenly, the door opened a crack. The assistant called out my name. My stomach jumped up in my throat and I held my breath for a minute. My nerves taking over, I carefully made my way into the pool area. I took off my towel and walked over to the far side of the pool. There sat my instructor, looking like the arbiter on Judgment Day. There were two other people there, the "big boys" as I had jokingly called them. They were two of the largest people in the class and I had to save one of them.

One of the boys was already out in the water. I put my rescue tube on, trying to keep control of my terrible nervousness. On cue, the boy in the water began to flail around like he was drowning. "Go," my instructor commanded. I jumped in and swam out to my victim, keeping my head clear and focusing only on what I had to do. I forgot about being tested and focused on saving my victim. Before I knew it, I had saved him, completing the first portion of the test. Then came the second part. My victim went back out to the middle, took a deep breath, and went under. He was soon basically sitting on the bottom of the pool! Quickly, I jumped in again and almost instinctively saved him. I pulled him over to the side and out of the water. Next, I had to do a quick survey of the situation and tell the other boy to, "Call 911!"

As soon as those words left my mouth, my instructor said, "Excellent!" Then he called out the name of the next person to be tested. For a moment, I could only kneel on the freezing deck and blink at him. That was it? I had gotten all worked up over that? I recovered and went to get my towel and bag. My body was shaking from the adrenaline rush. I wrapped myself in my towel and went to take the written test, which I had no worries about. I was still shaking as I took the test. Finally, it was all over. I went to take a shower and get dressed.

When it was all over, I had the satisfaction of knowing that I had accomplished something. I was also very relieved. More importantly, I am officially a lifeguard! l


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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