I almost had to save a girl from drowning in our gym's outdoor pool Saturday. I'm relaxing in the first swimming lane when a woman and her two young children round the corner alongside the pool. The mother, far in the lead, and the son, lagging behind, accomplish the left foot, right foot thing with no problem. The daughter seems distracted as she makes the turn, then steps onto the pool ledge, then walks right into the pool, into my lane several yards in front of me.
I see the whole thing: this slight stumble, this perfect entrance in flip-flops, and it surprises me somewhat. I proceed cautiously, just in case. I turn to face her brother, and he gives me a kind of look that says, "I don't think this is supposed to happen." Then I see her bobbing her head in the water, but not really getting more than her hair to rise above the surface. I start running forward, which works only so well when you're in a pool. Meanwhile the older brother points out the problem to the mother, who runs back on dry land and slightly descends the entrance ladder to reach out and retrieve her still-bobbing daughter just before I get there.
The whole ordeal lasted under 30 seconds, and the girl seemed startled but okay. I should mention that all of this took place about 20 feet from the on-duty lifeguard, whose elevated station was at the end of my lane. No one noticed him, and he noticed no one.