Pinckney Girl Scout Earns Lifesaving Award

PINCKNEY – Lydia Bolen does not consider herself to be a strong swimmer and she never had lifeguard training, but none of this mattered when she saved the life of a two-year-old last August.

Lydia, a 10-year-old, who is in the fifth grade at Navigator Elementary School and a member of Troop 41812, said she simply did what she knew she had to do after the little girl fell in the deep end of a pool during a birthday party. As a result of her quick thinking, Lydia is the recipient of the Lifesaving Award Medal of Honor from Girl Scouts of the USA.

“I had my goggles on and I was swimming in the middle of the pool when I saw a little girl sinking in the deep end. She was kicking and I thought ‘she’s not supposed to be there.’ So I swam over to her and put my toes on the ledge to push her out.” Lydia said of the rescue.

Lydia stood less than 4'9 at the time and the deep end was 9'. She went under the water, pushed up and off the ledge and pushed Nora Clarke, the little girl, out of the water.

Nora’s mother, Rita, said in Lydia’s application for the Lifesaving Award, that her family is “eternally grateful” to Lydia for saving Nora’s life.

“(Lydia) probably could have yelled for help or ran to get an adult but she didn’t. She was smart enough to go ahead and take care of the situation by herself – successfully I might add…She kept her composure and kept checking on Nora all afternoon. Thank God for Lydia!”

Kim Rexwinkle, who traveled from Maryville, TN for the pool party, wrote in the application that, “(Lydia) remained calm and was very humble about her part in averting what could’ve been a horrible tragedy.”

Jan Barker, Chief Executive Officer of GSHOM, said Lydia exemplifies the many lessons and skills girls learn through their involvement in Girl Scouting. She said she is very proud to have a Lifesaving Award Medal of Honor recipient within her council.

“Lydia’s courage and quick thinking are among the leadership skills we teach our girls,” Barker said. “Her actions in the pool that day exemplify our mission to build girls of courage, confidence and character who will make the world a better place.
“I am truly touched by her humility.”

“I’m kind of proud about it, but it was kind of scary,” Lydia said.
Melissa Bolen, who leads Lydia’s troop, said she doesn’t know how her daughter managed to pull Nora to safety.

“She thinks she’s allowed to swim in the deep end but she’s really not. She loves the water, but if someone had asked me if she was capable of saving someone from drowning I don’t know if I would have said yes,” Melissa said. “She’s never even taken a swim class.”

Melissa said she was and continues to be very proud of Lydia, not only for saving Nora’s life, but also for the care and concern she showed for Nora after the incident. Melissa said he daughter continues to be very humble about her actions.
“She did what had to be done,” Melissa said.

She said Lydia’s quick action and calm demeanor in a crisis situation stem from multiple influences in her life, including the Girl Scouts.

“A lot of our girls are very different in learning how to deal with conflict at school and learning how to adapt,” Melissa said. “When she started Girl Scouts as a first-year Brownie, I just wanted to see what it was about. I wanted her to be involved in something good in the community and wanted her to be involved in an organization that builds strong women and bigger dreams for what our girls could do.

“We have the potential to create very strong, confident girls.”

Lydia said Girl Scouts is fun and is making a difference in her community.

“We’ve donated to the food pantry and worked there, we have worked at the American Legion and I know there’s more,” she said. “I just love how it makes the community a better place.”