A muscular lifeguard is looking down at the two women he has saved form drowning. One lies on her back, the other on her stomach.
The basic arrangement of these figures is varied only slightly in the following studies, and it differs most significantly from the painting of Undertow by the absence of the second lifeguard at right.
—Egbert Haverkamp-Begemann, Standish D. Lawder, and Charles W. Talbot, Jr., Drawings from the Clark Art Institute, 2 vols. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964), 1:144, no. 343.