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UTSA jumper warms up for NCAA Championship by saving a life

Sunday was a typical day at work as a pool attendant for UTSA long jumper Tyler Williamson.

Families were around the private pool enjoying the evening, and Williamson’s mind was on the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships, where he is scheduled to compete Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. (Central) in Des Moines, Iowa.

That all changed when one of the parents asked Williamson if he’d seen her 3-year-old son, Jaden Muhlenbruch. Williamson checked the restroom, and when he came out he heard frantic screams to call 911.

Unbeknown to anyone, Jaden had fallen into the pool and had sunk down the side to the bottom of the water. The toddler had just been retrieved from the water when Williamson, a former life guard, asked everyone to back away so he could immediately begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

“When I saw the little boy, he was unconscious, not breathing, and he was blue,” Williamson said. “I did three or four rounds of compressions, and he started coughing up fluid from his lungs.”

Those sounds were the best Williamson had ever heard.

“When the first breath of air come from him, it is hard describe what if felt like,” said Williamson, a junior and three-time Southland Conference champion (two indoor, one outdoor). “Then he started regaining color, and it was an amazing feeling.”

Williamson kept the toddler on his side and waited for paramedics to arrive. When the emergency responders came on the scene, they used a defibrillator on Muhlenbruch and called for a flight-for-life helicopter.

“After they took the little boy away, I was in shock,” Williamson said. “It was around 5 p.m. and I had another four hours to work. But they gave me the rest of the day off.”

Williamson spent Tuesday traveling to Des Moines for the NCAA meet and received word that Jaden is going to be all right. Williamson’s life-saving actions, which he first learned as a freshman in high school, prevented a tragedy.

Williamson, whose last recertification in CPR came during his junior year of high school, said all the training he received in the past came to the forefront at the most dire of times.

“I just acted, and there was no hesitation,” Williamson said. “It was kind of weird, because most times people have to practice this yearly to have that kind of instinct. It was something beyond my power that happened (Sunday). Someone upstairs was telling me what to do.”

Williamson, who owns the UTSA indoor (25-0½) and outdoor (25-8¾) long jump marks, has let the events of Sunday process in his mind.

Before the life-saving moment, competing in his first NCAA national meet was the most important thing to him. Now, he goes into his long jump event with a different perspective.

“I don’t think anything will be as important as what happened on Sunday,” Williamson said. “I don’t think I’ll ever have a high moment like that in my life again. Until that moment, I would tell you it was a boring day at work. I’m glad I was there for the little boy. My mind is active now, and I’m ready for the meet.”