“I bet you can’t do that Mum”. Those words ring in my ears as I multi-task at the local pool. I’m wondering what happened to the three-meter diving board as I’m about to jump in the bright blue water. Summer is here and there’s a lot of activity going on in the pool. Swimming, splashing, noodling, canoodling, kick boarding, weeing. And to add to the mix, latest generation babies in nappies. Ewww.
But there’s no diving
What happened to the days when diving boards were a permanent fixture at the local public pools? In the midst of the summer holidays, kids lined up by the dozens in their speedos waiting for their turn to climb the ladder. Shaded outdoor pools and sunscreen were futuristic, so it was common to acquire a good dose of sunburn during the long wait. Finally, everyone got their turn. Up the ladder, then the long slow walk to the end of the plank, toes hanging ten over the edge, then bounce, bounce, bounce and finally plunge into the deep blue water. That’s how it was done.
Nowadays, there are no diving boards in sight. Instead, there are signs placed at various intervals around pools that read (or show) NO DIVING. I assume that means off the side of the pool. But for me, none of this really matters because diving isn’t my thing anyway. My diving career started and ended with one spectacular plunge.
It happened in Adelaide ….
My kids and I were on holiday in Adelaide and decided to spend a day at the local pool. We did the usual things; swimming, eating, relaxing and then we’d start the process all over again. After lunch we were sitting on the side of the shallow end of the pool dangling our feet in the water in direct view of the diving boards. There were lots of people diving. The kids seemed intrigued.
Finally, one of them said, “I bet you can’t do that Mum”.
“Of course, I can”.
They wouldn’t let it go. I had to do it. My maiden dive.
As a single parent, being a great role model to my children and never letting them down was paramount. But sometimes I’ll admit, I went a little overboard.
“Of course, I can do it”
I ambled towards the diving board with my head hanging low and my heart beating fast. There were about fifteen people lined up in front of me, no doubt all experienced divers. I watched the divers’ techniques. Most of them bounced up and down on the diving board a couple of times, tucked their head between their raised arms, jumped up before plunging down and sliding easily into the pool, fingertips first.
A crash course in three techniques
But then there were two more techniques that I hadn’t envisaged although I’d seen them in the Olympic Games. Some ran flat out along the diving board, jumped in and made an almighty splash. Another person walked steadily along the plank, turned to face the back wall and did a couple of bounces before a backwards somersault into the water. As far as techniques go, I decided to go with the majority.
I was moving up the ladder. Rung. Stop. Rung. Stop ….. It was a bloody long way up and seemed to take ages. There was no way I could get out of the line now. There were people behind me. And people in front of me. I looked over at my kids. They were so proud. I was wondering about freak diving accidents. How many people had died doing this? Would I be the first? Who would look after my kids?
“You did it, Mum!”
Finally, I was on the diving board. I looked around and down. The person behind me was on the last rung of the ladder before the step onto the diving board. There were about another ten behind that person. The only way to go was forward. I walked along and didn’t stop. I put my hands out in front of me and down I went – for a belly smacker.
As I rose up out of the water, still alive and kicking, a passer-by remarked, ‘that must’ve hurt’.
My outer voice said, ‘Oh, no it was OK’.
To be honest, the pain was worth it as I looked up and saw the three little faces of my offspring beaming with pride.
Challenge 89 – accomplished!
Don’t ask me what happened to arms up, head tucked in, bounce, bounce, bounce, jump up and dive in. I guess I needed more than a crash course.
Gerda Daumerlang, Olympic participant in 1936 from the 3m board. 1940
Thanks to Unsplash and the Austrian National Library for the image.