by Justin Liao (P6 2021)
The sky was a bright cerulean blue as I made my way to the glistening swimming pool at Bedok Swimming Complex. Gulping down the lump of bile rising in my throat, I took a deep breath and marched forward. I was a reluctant participant in the Swim Safer Programme. My mother thought I could learn a new skill despite having hydrophobia after a swimming incident when I was four. Since then, I never wanted to see another pool again.
I thought to myself, “Come on, Justin, you can do this!” As I dipped one foot into the water, adrenaline immediately pumped through my veins, not knowing that I was watched by Thomas and his gang. His uniform was disheveled and he was burly. His cold stares and evil demeanour always scared me. As expected, a few voices emanated from behind me. “HAHAH! You are a loser! Loser! Loser! Idiot noob,’’ they chuckled.
I murmured under my breath, “Silly guys. Dumb…’’
I descended into the cold deep water as Thomas and his gang kept a watchful eye on me. Just then, I lost my footing in the water. With a splash, my head fully submerged.
I screamed, “Help! Helllllp!”
Luckily, I was saved by my best friend, Tim, who helped me to swim to the side of the pool. He saved my life that day. Since then, I told myself I would never swim again.
One evening, as I was strolling around my condominium, I heard a faint crying sound.
“Help! Helllllp!’’ A soft crying sound emanated from the swimming pool. I turned and , upon seeing the victim, I stood rooted to the ground with my mouth agape. I could not believe it. It was Thomas the bully. He was drowning in the pool! I had to do something.
Without hesitation, I instinctively ran towards the pool but a sudden thought stopped me in my tracks. I did not know how to swim yet and I was scared stiff. What should I do??? As time passed by, I grew more worried about the impending situation. I had to do something. I had to.
Just then, I thought of my mother’s words — Courage is not about the absence of fear but doing what’s right despite our fears. I had made my decision. I mustered my courage and dived into the chilly water. As I made my way gingerly towards Thomas, I started to struggle and drank some water. My head was in the water but I never gave up. Persevering, I tried desperately to save him. Three meters, Two meters, One meter… YES!!! My fingers clasped Thomas’s, and I started to pull him back to the poolside. With the last ounce of strength, we managed to get back on solid ground.
By then, a sizeable crowd had gathered to see the drama unfold. Eventually both of us were coughing as we consumed a bit of water. “Cough, Cough,” we sputtered.
Thomas then thanked me profusely, “Thank you for saving my life, Justin. Sorry for teasing you last time.”
I accepted his apology because of his sincerity towards me. I found out that my mother was among the crowd, and she praised me for my bravery and courage.
Thomas and I became friends due to that incident. As it turned out, he suffered a cramp when he was in the pool. To make sure that he did not suffer any other injuries, he was sent to the hospital for further medical examination.
Prior to that day, I did not know that I had it in me to be courageous. I learnt that being courageous was not about being fearless, but it was choosing to do what was right in spite of our fears.