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I read this book in the early '80s.

A boy is staying with relatives. He has no problem swimming in a pool, but is terrified of swimming in lakes and rivers. He is determined to overcome this fear, and panics in the attempt. He is rescued by another boy. The two spend the summer together and the first boy overcomes his fear. At the end of the book, he discovers that his friend is a ghost who died rescuing his little brothers from drowning.

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