Informant is a 21 year old student at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. He studies musical composition and business. His family tells a lot of stories, many of which he enjoys sharing with his friends at applicable times.
“An amusing story that comes to mind is one that my Dad tells of when he was training to be a life guard. This has particular resonance for me because I was a life guard myself. But he tells this story of this sort of ex-Marine or maybe Navy Seal guy who was six foot seven – you know, he gets taller every time the story’s told – you know three hundred pounds of all muscle who was their instructor and would teach him, would teach all the students all of the things that lifeguard don’t really actually have to know but that are kind of fun – like pressure points and how to you know knock people unconscious if necessary. And the culminating, you know final exam for this class was supposedly that this guy would just jump in the water and go down to the bottom of the pool and you had to go down there and he would try his hardest to drown you. You had to find a way to bring him back up to the surface which, is, I think a little bit embellished, or at least it was a different era. Of course the question I always had was, why not just wait until he had to come up for air and say you won, haha. But, who knows!”
The informant says that, while he would mainly share this story with other family members, he would, and has, shared it with friends and fellow life-guard coworkers.
This story, while a family specific story, has a couple elements that are found in many stories. One of these is the element of a large, scary, and vaguely militaristic character. This character, the life-guard instructor in this story, acts as both a teacher and an obstacle that must be overcome at the end of one’s training in an almost-impossible way. This character is found often in American pop-culture and folklore. Another element of this story is the trope about how the old-days, or the way things used to be done were better in some way. In this case, it is that life-guard training was more intense and that the informant’s father had to work harder to get certified as a life-guard than the informant did.
It has legend-like elements because of these stock characters, situations and themes and because it could be true but as the informant said, “who knows”!