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Out of Harm's Way

So there we were. Fifty 10 year old boys. In the Minnesota of mid-winter cold, packed on a school bus, heading for the big downtown YMCA. We were going swimming.

In can still sense the excitement, the “can hardly wait” anticipation. These were the days of owning the world, of being.

And we arrive at the Y. Out of the bus, running through the cold, keeping up with the speed of each other, and into the sounds and wet warmth of the building. My God, we can smell the pool. We hear it echo to us as we tear off our parkas, our boots, shirts and pants flying. We were naked as the day we were born. No suits for us today, not when we were about to plunge into the waters of the “Boys Only” pool.

I can still feel it. The event we had been waiting for since it was announced by Mrs. Elmquist 5 weeks ago. All there was to do now was run. And run we did. Flying into the water. I guess we never heard the commands to slow down, to wait for the teacher in charge, or to walk around to the other end of the pool where the depth was a reasonable 3 feet.

I couldn’t swim and was instantly under the heaviness of water at the deep end of the pool. I knew I was drowning. I had heard that one would surface three times. After the third gasp above water, down I would go , never to surface again.

Boy, was I scared. I surfaced for the first time. It was bright and noisy. I thought of yelling for help, but could not. Something inside stopped me. I sink again and resurface. Once more I thought it wise to yell “HELP” but could not. They also say that on the third time under you will see your life pass before your eyes. And indeed mine did. This short life, only 10 years, did not take long to pass. It didn’t have much to say. I committed to yell for help on this the third rising.

Feeling a curved hooking devise around my belly, lifted clear out of the water and being gently placed on the side of the pool, I never had a chance to meet my resolve and finally ask for help. And still unto these last 45 years of life, I have needed the help of others often and asked for it seldom.

As the hand of God surely curves around and holds me strong, gently placing me on the side, out of harms way.

- Dave Jass

Used with Permission