After the near-drowning, Lopez said he was asked by his supervisor to complete an incident report.
"At that point I knew I was going to be fired. I knew I had broken the rule," Lopez said. "In those cases, we are supposed to call 911 and hope they get there in time."
Company supervisor Susan Ellis previously told WPTV that Lopez was let go for violating company policy.
"We have liability issues and can't go out of the protected area," she told the TV station. "What he did was his own decision. He knew the company rules and did what he thought he needed to do."
Lopez said he started the $8.25-an-hour job four months ago and had hoped to continue working there when he goes to Broward College in the fall.
"I have no doubts I did the right thing," he said Thursday. "I believe I did what was right, and that if someone needs help you're going to go help them, regardless if you're a lifeguard or not."