Yesterday I drove up to West Point for a springboard diving clinic. I wasn’t sure quite what to expect—I had learned about the clinic through an email sent out by my TNYA diving coach, but none of my teammates were going (many are attending to our upcoming week-long swim/diving camp in Fort Lauderdale, the lucky ducks). I had explained to the organizers that I was a beginning masters diver, and they had let me know that I would be very welcome. An email to participants on Friday mentioned that there would be a broad mix of abilities and ages. It turned out that I was the only masters, and I was a little self-conscious in the beginning about being both the oldest and the least experienced diver, but that quickly disappeared as we all got to work on improving and learning new skills. I’m kind of glad I didn’t know ahead of time that I would be the only adult, because that might have discouraged me from participating in what turned out to be a great experience.
Coach Ron and his assistant Melissa first had the 10 of us sit in a circle and introduce ourselves, giving our names and few other tidbits of personal info (it had been a long time since I thought about what my favorite color was—I chose turquoise). Then after a bit of dryland we got to work on jumping technique—first on land, then off of springboards that were placed in front of big soft mats, then on the trampoline, then finally off a 1m platform and 1 and 3m boards into the pool. We then started working lineups into the pool, while Ron worked with individuals at the boards-with-mats setup, this time strapping us into harnesses and working on actual dives. The chance to work on the ropes was one of the things that attracted me to the clinic, as we don’t have that kind of set-up at our regular practice pool.
When my turn came to work in the harness, I worked on my inward dive some (key: through arms down center of body before tucking, not to sides like I’m doing a butterfly stroke). Then we moved on to forward one-and-a-half’s. This was what I was really looking forward to working on while in the belt, as I’ve never experienced the sensation of doing more than a single flip in the air. Ron corrected some things with my flipping technique, then I did some 1½s, with him signaling me when to kick out of my tuck. After a few, I went directly to the 1m board and did the same thing, not roped in. I was able to complete the required rotations and go in headfirst, but without being in a very good diving position. I was told we’d return to those once I practiced some line-ups.
So I did some line-ups and easy dives off the 1m, then was told to try my back dive off the 3m. I’d never done this before, but Ron’s philosophy seems to be that once you’ve done something successfully off the 1m, you should immediately go do it off the 3. So I climbed up onto the higher board, did my back-approach-arm-swinging-and oscillation routine, paused, then did the tiniest of hops off the board into a back dive. Luckily I landed it ok. I was sent back up to do it with more conviction, and after a few more tries got comfortable with the notion of doing a back dive from the greater height. Woohoo! That had just doubled the number of dives I can do off the 3m.
But I wasn’t yet done. I came back down to the 1m to try my forward 1½ again, this time with a two-step approach (I had been just jumping from the end of the board before). With the more height that gave me I could complete the rotation and do a semblance of a dive position into the water. I did several of these until I felt comfortable with them, and was feeling proud that I would have a new dive to show off to my coach and teammates at the next practice.
I should have seen what was coming next, but somehow I didn’t. When I exited the pool after my fifth attempt, Ron told me to go do it off the 3m. I stood there slack-jawed for a moment, until he told me again. I started climbing up the ladder, not sure if my shaking legs would carry me up. I was still in shock that I was being asked to do this, and reminded myself that I was after all a grown-up, and didn’t really have to do anything that I didn’t want to do. But with that thought came the realization that this was something I wanted to do—maybe not today, but eventually. But opportunities don’t always come about exactly when you want them, and the chance to try this skill was being offered here, now. I stepped up into position, ready to try. Ron told me to dive with conviction, just the way I had done it off the 1m. I took a deep breath, did my approach, and flung myself into the air.
You know how at swim meets there always seems to be an octogenarian butterflyer who can barely get her arms out the water on each recovery, and who takes many painful minutes to complete a 50? And how by the middle of the second lap the whole pool is mesmerized by the struggle, and bursts into applause once that final stroke is taken? Well, on Saturday, that applause was for me, given by my young clinic-mates when I completed my first 1½ off the high board. And reader, I relished it.
I did a few more of those dives, gaining confidence with each and getting a better sense of my bearings in the air. And I realized that, much as I hated to admit it, the dive was actually easier from the 3 than from the lower board—I had more time in the air to complete the dive, and enjoy it. It makes me look forward to learning more dives off the 3, and maybe even working up a competition dive list at that height as well.
In the showers I was literally shaking from the adrenaline rush of the dives, but beaming from all the new skills I’d learned. I had a beautiful drive back to the city, and can’t wait to try some of this stuff again at diving practice on Thursday.
And, since this is nominally a swimming blog, here’s the short workout I did at the Y today.
1000 scy warmup (400s, 200k, 200p, 200 IM d/s)
100 FR @ 1:30
50 K @ 1:00
100 IM @ 1:45
50 K @ 1:00
[Kicks were IM order + reverse IM order. I had planned to do all the 100s on 1:30, but I just didn’t have any fast IMs in me today.]
300 warmdown + play
My set today used to be my go-to set years ago whenever I swam alone, and I enjoyed revisiting it today. Unsurprisingly, I was very sore today, and felt tight in the water—my triceps especially are feeling it, I think from too many times of failing to get into a full locked-out dive position before I hit the water yesterday. The swimming felt good though and loosened me up a little, as did the post-swim steam and stretch.