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High school swimmer stays calm, helps save a life during swim meet

Local News

Courtesy: Granite School District

HEBER CITY, Utah (ABC4) – When Claire Keller, a Junior at Skyline High School, attended the state swim meet, she didn’t anticipate she would have the chance to help save a life.

Keller says she had just finished swimming backstroke in the medley relay and was in the balcony with her team.

“I looked over, and a coach was on the ground, and his face was completely blue and purple,” she says.

A lifeguard at Holladay Lions Recreation Center, Keller says she knows it can be annoying when a bunch of people come and surround the situation, so she kept her distance.

However, when the lifeguard on duty ran over and didn’t activate an emergency action plan, Keller says she knew it was time to step in and help.

Keller says she rolled the coach onto his back and realized he wasn’t breathing. Another woman joined her, and they started performing a jaw thrust, which is “a way to open up a victim’s trachea so they can breath better,” Keller explains.

She says she got up to look for a crash bag to help the victim, but one was not available.

“We had to do it the old-fashioned way, keep the jaw thrust going, keep his airway open for the most part, and then EMS came,” she says.

Immediately afterward, Keller says she spoke to the Director of Wasatch Aquatic Center, where the meet was taking place.

“We completely revamped their whole crash bag, Emergency Action plan situation, so hopefully, if this does happen again, they’ll be prepared,” she says.

Though Keller says she has never had to deal with a situation like this as a lifeguard, she says she was nervous but not scared.

“I completely forgot that I was even at the state swim meet. I forgot everything that was going on around me. I was completely in the zone like I gotta help this guy. I feel like when a situation like that happens, you just completely forget everything else. You’re just in a completely different world, and that’s how I felt,” she explains.

Her advice for being prepared for an emergency situation?

“Honestly, if I could give any piece of advice to really anyone, it’s to look into getting some form of CPR training or even if you have CPR training, to brush up on it. It’s such an important thing to know just because these situations happen in the weirdest places.

She adds, “The state swim meet, I thought that I’d be swimming, not lifeguarding. And honestly, it can happen to your friend; it can happen to your parents. It can happen to really anyone, and it’s so important that you need to know how to take care of, and even if you don’t know what you’re doing.”

Keller says that if someone doesn’t know CPR, staying calm is key.

“If you call 911 if you don’t know CPR, the biggest thing that you need to do is just listen to 911,” she says. “Don’t be frantic, don’t be upset, don’t make the situation worse by overreacting. You just have to stay calm and listen to the responder.”

According to Keller, the coach began breathing, received medical attention at the hospital, and is doing okay now.

Granite School District’s Facebook post states that Keller went on to swim the 100 Backstroke following the rescue.

“I am so proud of Claire’s emergency response and level-headed rapid actions,” her mother, Jemina Keller, says. “She has trained repeatedly for this over the past two years.”

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