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Lifesaver - Local Teen Makes Rescue
Your kids are in good hands at the community swimming pool - the lifeguards are watching.

Lifeguard Mariah Cooper was on duty Friday morning and made "a great save," in the words of Parks and Recreation Director Sue Fitzpatrick, when an 11-year-old boy got into difficulties.

"I was sitting in the chair watching the deep end," Cooper said. "I saw this boy go under - they often do that to touch their toes to the bottom - come up again and go down again. When he came up the second time, he was paddling but struggling and then he yelled for help."

Cooper blew her whistle three times, (the accepted signal to warn both lifeguards and other swimmers of an emergency) jumped in and brought the boy to the side.

"He wasn't drowning or anything. He didn't need CPR. But he said he'd swallowed a lot of water and he was acting kind of shook up and scared," Cooper explained.

Fitzpatrick happened to be just driving up, saw the incident through the doorway and was at poolside by the time Cooper helped the boy out of the water.

"It was perfect," Fitzpatrick said. "She blew the whistle, jumped into the water and all the other lifeguards came running out with their gear. I was impressed by their efficiency."

This is only the second year on the local lifeguard squad for Cooper, who is 16. The minimum age for a lifeguard is 15 and a half. She lives in Riverbank but attends Valley Charter School in Modesto and plays on a traveling softball team besides swimming.

The number of lifeguards watching the pool varies from one to four depending on the number of swimmers. There were two guards on duty and about 40 swimmers in the pool Friday morning because Cardozo Middle School had sent across most of its summer school students.