After Jesse Mayreis watched his friend jump in a neighbor's pool, there wasn't any screaming or wild flailing of the arms to tell him that the boy was drowning.
"He jumps in and everything changes," said Jesse, 10. "All I see is his head slowly come up, very slowly, and then you see a lot of bubbles, and his arms waiving like a bird really fast."
He remembered a scene from a movie where a mother jumps in with her dress and jewelry to save her son, he said, so in he went - clothes, watch and all.
Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton and State Assemblyman Charles Lavine each presented Jesse with a citation for his actions at Morgan Memorial Park Thursday.
It only takes 20-60 seconds for a struggling person to go under, according to Reader's Digest. With his father outside the pool getting towels, Jesse's reaction came just in time for Jeremiah Prince, 13, who was visiting from North Carolina.
"He comes from a place that's totally landlocked, and there are no opportunities there to learn how to swim," said his aunt, Vivian Hardison.
Jeremiah's home of Warsaw, N.C. has precious few opportinities for him at all, she said - Hardison described a mindset toward black residents that is stuck in the 1960's - and it is an existence that she escaped in her youth through education. She wants the same for her nephew.
Let Patch save you time. Get local stories like this delivered right to your inbox or smartphone everyday with our free newsletter. Simple, fast sign-up here.
As a reward for some educational achievements, Hardison brought Jeremiah to Glen Cove to experience another way of life. He made the acquaintance of the Mayreis family and they showed him around, including a visit to Prybil Beach. Jeremiah said he could swim and had fun splashing around in the shallow water, said Jesse's mother, Maxine.
The pool was different because Jeremiah didn't know there was a deep end - he had never been to a pool before, Jesse said.
"He was so excited about a pool, he was on the diving board and jumped in before I could," said Jesse.
A few days before, his mother had gathered the kids to watch a video a friend had posted on Facebook teaching the signs that someone is drowning.
"I just thought it's something they should know," Maxine said.
Jesse credited the swimming lessons he received as a child with making him a strong swimmer. He thinks all schools should have such programs.
As for the "hero" label, Jesse said he's not quite sure how to take it.
"It feels good, I know I did the right thing - but it gets annoying sometimes," he said.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this story stated that Jesse attended Glen Cove City Schools. He attended Solomon Schechter Day School.