DRAMA unfolded at an Observer photoshoot this week when plucky pensioner Len Holden was dragged to safety by swimming pool lifeguards.
Underwater swimmer Len, 68, was spotted unconscious at the bottom of Mercer Hall pool within minutes of a photographer arriving to take his picture.
Len, of Harwood Road, Rishton, had amazed doctors after battling cancer with a remarkable fitness routine which included swimming three lengths of the pool underwater.
But this week, as photographer Cavan Smyth arrived, he and a pool attendant noticed Len in difficulty at the bottom of the pool.
Another swimmer dragged distressed Len to the surface and a lifeguard resuscitated him. Amazingly Len, who regained consciousness within seconds, went on to have his picture taken.
Joe Balko, chief executive of Leisure Trust, who run the pool, confirmed that the lifeguard followed the emergency action plan at the centre.
He said: "The pool attendant observed Mr Holden swimming and noted that he had done a number of lengths underwater, and he moved over to monitor him more closely. "
He added: "He was recovered from the pool unconscious and staff performed CPR. Emergency services were contacted for assistance."
After paramedics had checked him over, he was allowed to go home.
Len said: "It was definitely a bit of a blip. I did too much and passed out. I was checked, and although my blood pressure is a little high, I drove home and I'm fine now. My record swimming underwater is three-and-a-half lengths, and I was trying to beat it. I had just touched the side after completing my fourth length and then I passed out.
"I certainly won't be doing that again, but I must say how glad I am that the lifeguards were on hand. I definitely know how far to go now!"