by, September 21st, 2012 at 10:27 AM (2047 Views)
Last night I attended my first diving practice. Not diving as in racing starts, but springboard diving!
The team I swim for—Team New York Aquatics—added a diving team in January of 2011. Last March the local meet we held included a diving competition. I stuck around and watched. I saw not only former collegiate divers doing spectacular things, but also some of my lanemates who were relative beginners doing credible dives. I was smitten, and decided that I had to try it out.
Over the spring and summer I stayed pretty busy swimming but kept the diving in mind. So last week when I got a team email about a diving boot camp for anyone interested in trying out the sport, I signed up right away. I spent last Sunday afternoon learning some basics, and then ventured out to Queens last night for my first session on the boards.
And I loved it! Our coach is really great, and really focused on doing the basics right and progressing slowly, so the beginners group (there are five of us) just worked on jumping off the board correctly and doing some forward line-ups (basically getting your body aligned, bending over at the waist, then falling off the board in a diving position. We did these skills off both the 1m and 3m boards. The latter was a little scary at first, but having keys to focus on for each skill was helpful.
And for the record, that jumping off the board thing—it’s a little harder than it looks! The technique is a little different than jumping on land—you want to use your legs to push the board down as powerfully as possible, then get yourself into a straight, stiff line by the time the board reaches its lowest point so that it can vault you up into the air as high as possible when it rebounds. That means straightening out the spine, which is designed with curves to absorb shocks—a good thing in real life, a bad thing if you want to fly as high as possible off a springboard (or glide as far and fast as possible after flipturns)., A lot of our dryland work last night focused on getting that straight spine.
I have absolutely no background in diving. I did take a trampoline class in college, and loved that, so the idea of eventually being able to do flips in the air again appeals to me. I plan to try this diving stuff over the next few weeks or months and decide if it’s a keeper as an activity. Some questions I have: Can I do this without too much risk of an injury that will affect my swim training (I’m especially worried about my wrists and elbows—they’ve already proven somewhat delicate)? Will I be too scared once we progress to more complex skills? Is taking up springboard diving in one’s mid-40s completely insane? And if it is, do I care?
Answers to all these will come soon enough. For now, I’m having fun learning some new skills in a new sport!