Lifeguards have to know how to rescue you and not get pulled under while they do it. Not only do they have to be good swimmers, they have to watch out for the drowning person who is thrashing about. Drowning people don’t do anything right to stop themselves drowning. They will hit the person who is trying to save them. They will grab at them, pulling them under the water. The more they thrash and grab, the worse the situation gets.
Lifeguards are trained to approach the victim from behind to rescue them, and to be wary of sudden movements from them. If drowning people relaxed they’d be a lot easier to rescue. In fact, if they relaxed in the first place they probably wouldn’t need to be rescued.
Try it the next time you are in a pool. Tense up, pretending you are anxious. Feel like you aren’t going to make it to the wall. You’ll start to sink. Relax and you’ll start to float. Let go, and you are fine.
How much of this is like everything in life? Just tensing up makes an already bad situation worse. Freak out and you’ll need to be rescued. Then, when someone comes to help, you fight them. The smart helper knows how to approach you so they don’t get dragged down along with you. Drowning, finances, drugs, dependency- whatever. It is all the same.
People have to get certified to be lifeguards. There are manuals to study and a test to pass. Kids in high school can do this. It is unfortunate that helping people not drown in other ways requires more advanced training. Maybe if it could be simplified and de-stigmatized it would be easier for everyone. If we can help people before they are really going under we will be doing very well as a society.