When I was maybe 13, I joined the diving team at my summer pool. Two of my friends were on the team, plus diving meets had a way better snack bar than at the swimming meets. It was a natural fit. Except that you needed four or five dives in order to really be a contender, and mostly I could just do a front and back dive. That didn't stop me from trying, though. I'd get up, do the one-two-three step approach (I mean, hey, even if I wasn't every good, at least I could go through the very professional motions) and give it my all. I was terrible.
|My diving prowess may or may not have looked something like this. |
Image via Flickr, courtesy of Rattler97
By high school, I needed a diversion to get me out of swim practice. And our team needed female divers, so taking one for the team, I stepped up. Besides, it got me out of lap swimming halfway through practice. Totally worth it. High school diving was only slightly less intense than summer league. We needed four dives . . . a front dive, a back dive, some sort of flip, and "diver's choice," in order for it to count. I had the front, back and diver's choice (I usually did either an inverse or a reverse), but I could not get the pesky flip to save my life.
Every week, I would fill out my dive sheet, declaring my dives -- including the imaginary backflip I simply could not perform -- and go through the motions. When it would come to the backflip time, I'd very carefully walk to the end of the board, balance on my toes as if I were Greg Louganis , and jump straight back into the water. It got to be a joke on my team to the point where nobody ever even expected me to make the flip, least of all myself.
Then one Saturday, during a particularly boring meet at our home pool, I went through all the same motions as I had in the past. I marched out onto the board, stood on my tip toes, balanced my arms back and forth, and flung myself into the air. It wasn't until I hit the water that I realized I had finally managed to flip all the way over and not just jump off the diving board like a brave three-year old. When I finally popped up from underwater, the reaction of my team was electric. It was as if I had BECOME Greg Louganis and scored a perfect dive with no splash or overrotation. My teammates were screaming, my parents were screaming, my coach hugged me. And in that brief moment . . . I WAS Greg Louganis. So, you have your Olympic memories and I have mine. I just don't have a medal to show for it.