Brooke Burns had always loved the water. Why not? Running along the shore on Baywatch made her career and helped build her Los Angeles home with its black-bottom pool. But water almost took her life on Nov. 11, 2005, when she dove into that pool and hit the bottom, blacking out briefly and breaking her neck. "I woke up underwater," recalls Burns, 30. A friend stabilized her, and within hours surgeons had placed titanium rods in her neck. She lay immobilized for a week, thinking, 'Please, God, let me walk again,'" says Burns, mom to Madison, 8 (dad is ex-husband Julian McMahon of Nip/Tuck). She was lucky; she wasn't paralyzed. But the iron-pumping workouts that shaped her size-2, 5'9" body would be a thing of the past. To tone atrophied muscles and reduce impact on her joints, she returned to the pool (no diving) and after a year added stand-up paddle surfing. Today she can do 200 laps and even join Madison on the trampoline: "Before it was about being skinny. Now I'm strong."