"Hey! Hey! Watch out!" he shouted as he ran toward her lane, hoping desperately to intercept her.
With a dim thud, her head hit the side of the pool. He watched as her eyes rolled back and she sank under the water.
Jumping into the swimmer's lane, he pulled her to the surface, attempting to immobilize her neck as much as possible. He assessed her pulse and checked to make sure her airway wasn't compromised.
"Call an ambulance," he barked at the dumbstruck lifeguards headed in their direction.
She floated in his arms, eyes closed, bleeding. He took a moment to feel thankful he'd seen the effects of blood mixed with water before. Even a small amount of blood can look like a murder scene when water is added. He held her while they waited for the ambulance. He stroked her hair and checked her pulse again, disconcerted by the feeling of her soft skin under his fingers. Her eyes fluttered open, affording him a concerned glance before she winced in pain.
"What happened?" Her voice was thin and raspy.
"Shh, don't try to move, sweetheart. You slammed into that wall pretty hard."
"I . . . mmm . . . lost my count."
"It's gonna be okay."
She frowned, eyebrows pulling together. "Can I get up now?"
"There's an ambulance on the way. They'll be here in a minute. We need to wait to move you. I want to get you on a spine board and in a neck brace." He smiled and locked eyes with her. "What's your name, sweetheart?"