– Knight Ridder Newspapers

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – He has saved the world from nuclear terrorists in “True Lies,” invisible monsters in “Predator,” futuristic machines in “Terminator 2.”

This week, the legend of Arnold Schwarzenegger grew when California’s governor helped a weary swimmer to shore during his tropical Hawaiian vacation.

“And you thought he only did this in movies,” quipped Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Margita Thompson on Friday.

Alas, there were no sharks to battle, no sea serpents to slay. Schwarzenegger did not have to defeat a legion of heavily armed evildoers nor pull the swimmer to safety while hanging precariously from a severely-damaged helicopter.

But America’s best-known governor is getting credit for saving a man’s life nonetheless.

As the story goes, Schwarzenegger was taking an early afternoon swim near his Maui retreat on Wednesday when he passed a man clinging to a boogie board about 100 yards from shore.

The Republican governor asked the man if he was OK and the swimmer said he had cramps and couldn’t swim back to the beach.

With no “Baywatch” babes on hand and no sign of David Hasselhoff, Schwarzenegger took matters into his own hands and helped the man safely back to shore.

The real-life test may come in handy for the governor when he and his family return from their 10-day Hawaiian vacation: In his absence, his cherished workers’ compensation deal looks like it is foundering and may be in need of some life-saving itself.

(c) 2004, San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.).

Visit MercuryNews.com, the World Wide Web site of the Mercury News, at http://www.mercurynews.com.

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

AP-NY-04-09-04 1927EDT

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