07/31/2009 at 04:36 PM EDT
When a sudden leg cramp caused diver Yang Yun to sink to the bottom of chilly waters at China's Harbin Polar Land
theme park during a diving contest, an unlikely fellow diver came to her aid: Mila the beluga whale!
"I was choking with water and plummeting to the bottom [and] a sudden force pushed me out of the water," Yang, a local medical student, told the U.K.'s Daily Mirror.
"I never dive into the water so deep and so cold. I was so nervous then."
At the diving contest, held on July 28 in Heilongjiang, China's northernmost region, applicants were required to dive into a 20-ft.-deep tank with no breathing equipment while the resident beluga whales swam among them. (The winner would be the diver who could dive the deepest and stay underwater the longest.) Yang made it 13 feet before her leg began cramping up and Mila pushed her to safety by holding her leg with its mouth.
According to the Mirror
, an activity organizer praised Mila, who is very familiar with humans, for being the first to spot the problem. Though she didn't win, Yang quickly recovered and thanked the whale and the audience by hopping right back into the water. Talk about a whale of a tale!Tell us: Has an animal ever saved you from danger? See more amazing rescue stories on PEOPLE Pets:Hospice Nurse Says Pooch's Lick Saved Her LifeDog Hero! Pit Bull Saves His Family From Intruder