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Alberta wildfire evacuee thanks man who saved him when he was choking on water

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A man from Drayton Valley, Alta. is publicly thanking a swimming instructor who helped him when he was choking on water at a hotel pool.

“I couldn’t breathe. So then I went to the edge and tried to bring myself out,” Cody Blackmore told CTV News Edmonton.

He and his family were evacuated from his hometown in May because of an out-of-control wildfire.

They wanted a fun evening so they booked themselves a room at the Sandman Hotel in Edmonton on the 14th. That's when his girls encouraged him to go down the water slide

"I probably shouldn’t have. I rocket myself down, so I started going down too fast. And then as soon as I hit the water, it goes in my nose," he explained.

"And it forced me to open my mouth underwater. Probably wasn't the best idea."

That's when panic set in.

"I hop out, I'm trying to make myself, like, gag or get the water out. It wasn't working…and then I look over and I see a bunch of red shirts and to me that was lifeguards," Blackmore said.

Swim instructor Ethan Lenz was in the middle of a swimming lesson when he noticed Blackmore.

"I turned around and I saw Cody just as he was hopping out of the water," Lenz recalled.

"At that point, I saw him put his hands to his throat, a national sign for choking. Didn't really see anyone doing anything at that point and so I figured I got to step into action here."

"Superman here, he jumps out of the pool, like, launched and as soon as he seen me, he knew. He grabbed me, gave me the Heimlich [manoeuvre] a good few pumps there and then out the water came," Blackmore said.

Lenz has only been a swim instructor for about eight months but his boss says she was not surprised to hear of his heroic efforts.

"We've had a lot of great testimonies and feedback from these parents so this one was just like, how much better does this get? Like this was just amazing. It was just so moving," said Judith Mbeleke, the owner of British Swim School East.

Experts say if you're choking on water, try to cough it up.

If you're helping someone who is choking, strike them on the back to try to clear their airway and then call 911.

As for Lenz and Blackmore, they plan on going for a drink and keeping up with one another.

"I don't know what would've happened if there wasn't anyone there so just very, very happy," Lenz said.

"It's cliché but not all heroes wear capes. He was wearing red that day," Blackmore said.

The evacuation order in Drayton Valley was lifted on May 16.

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