Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Taking the Plunge

It's the Olympics again, and as it does every go 'round, it brings with it delusions of grandeur (see here).  The Summer Olympics are even worse for me, considering that I played many of the sports, including gymnastics, swimming, field hockey, and soccer.  But I think where I really could've been a contender is in diving.  Ever since I first jumped off the board at age four, I really had something special in me.

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.

2011-07-04 Off the diving board 110
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.


  1. Oh good lord this is great stuff!!! I tried to make myself wait until after work to read it but the url sat there, taunting me. Read it! Read it! Read it! Thank God you didn't hit your head on the board and bleed all over the place, "Greg."!

  2. Ha, well I guess that's the ONE place where I have one up on Greg. We all have to excel at something. Apparently I excelled at not bumping my head...on the diving board (notice the qualifier).

  3. C-go, goin' for the gold! Sometimes, if I'm in a long hallway alone, I do "the approach" and imagine the spectacular dive that surely would follow.

  4. This is the stuff of Morgan Freeman narrated commercials my friend! Love it!! Btw- I'm totally stalking your blog now. We need to set up a coffee shop writing date ASAP