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by , September 21st, 2012 at 10:27 AM (2310 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!

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  1. pwb's Avatar
    Cool. The only "dive" I can do off a board is a can opener ( Back in my misspent youth, I could pull off a credible backflip until I pulled a Louganis and whacked my head.
  2. Sojerz's Avatar
    My first ever coach at a pool, Chuck Brown, taught diving at a summer pool (probably about age 7-8) b4 i started swimming. For some reason i transitioned from diving to swimming and eventually joined his winter AAU team in West Islip. I'm guessing i was a hopeless diver case, but i still remember some of what he taught me. Think you'll love it, especially the sense of flying through the air. There may be compression sleeves/wrap for gymnast/diver/dancer wrists and ankles instead of tape.

    His daughter Charlize Brown was a very close friend of my sisters, and she became a terrific NY state diver, one of the first women admitted to Yale; dove on the men's team.
  3. qbrain's Avatar
    Is taking up springboard diving in one’s mid-40s completely insane? And if it is, do I care?
    It hasn't ever concerned you before, so I doubt it will now either

    You are very good at enjoying yourself.

    If you stick to springboard your wrists and elbows would appear to be safe.
  4. Celestial's Avatar
    You are so brave! Or bold, or whatever! OMGoodness, I don't have the courage nor the flexibility for diving any more!
    Is taking up springboard diving in one’s mid-40s completely insane? And if it is, do I care?
    No it's not insane! If you're capable and having fun, go for it! Some people think we're crazy because we go to swim meets too, you know. Personally I wonder about the masters Syncro teams . . . . who's gonna watch, anyway? But if you're having fun. . . .
  5. jaadams1's Avatar
    I did dive in my final dual meet of high school. At the end of swim practices I would "play around" with the divers, but would seriously attempt to do the dives. The coach got me trained (with a LOT of pain) to be able to complete a few dives to be able to enter diving in a meet. I did: forward dive, back dive, inward dive, forward dive 1/2 twist (kinda), forward somersault, and the forward 2 1/2 somersault (which I translated into a cannonball).
    Yes, this is serious. Of all the dives, learning the inward dive was the most scary, yet the forward dive with 1/2 twist had some interesting splats in training.
  6. aztimm's Avatar
    That sounds like fun! In a way I wish there was something like that here. Maybe if I say it loudly, Paul will hear and start one.

    My diving experience is limited and not too good. When I was in the Army, I remember after I'd swim I'd usually go over and do a couple of dives. One time some guys were egging me on to do flips and crazy stuff. I remember landing once, with an extremely bloody nose. I was starting a leadership program the next day too.

    More recently, at one of the evening ASU masters practices, the coach had us do a, "tour de Mona." Snake swim though the 50m pool, the 25 yard pool, and go off two 1m and 3m springboards (thankfully he excused us from platform). On the 2nd 3m I couldn't decide if I'd dive or go straight, and somehow ended up flipping. I got a standing ovation from the kids diving team there after (and a ribbing for wearing my drag suit off a diving board).

    Good luck with this!
  7. That Guy's Avatar
    I dove for a summer and a half in summer league. I was decent for an 8 year old competing in the 10&U age group, but I quit midway through the next season after landing on my back too many times. At the age of 9, I just couldn't handle that. Years later I did teach myself a rudimentary inward, but I have never even so much as attempted a reverse. Oh hell no.
  8. rxleakem's Avatar
    You are amazing, SA!
    We had a 3m board at the town pool until insurance got too high and they pulled it. I once (gingerly) leaped from the high platform at Dartmouth before the coach found out.
  9. swimsuit addict's Avatar
    Thanks everyone for the kind words and support! And who knew so many of my fellow bloggers had some diving background (or compulsion) lurking in them?

    pwb, all the boys when I grew up did can-openers off the board at our Y pool. We girls tended to stick to trying flips, or doing cheerleader jumps or cartwheels off it. And I had a similar bad experience with a back flip--only I tried protecting my head with my hands when I sensed I was too close, and ended up with badly scraped knuckles that took all summer to heal up. It would be nice to avoid that this time around. And TG, I'm just hoping my first time smack-landing on my back won't drive me away from the sport.

    James, somehow that story does not surprise me at all. I'm only surprised you're not doing flips off the starting blocks to impress your new young teammates!

    Celestial, I definitely don't have the flexibility I used to--I'm hoping the diving will inspire me to work on that more. Right now my pike position looks sadly like a right angle.

    Tim, I bet Paul would add diving if there were interest. And you sound like a good first recruit for the team! You certainly have the facilities right there waiting, without having to pay the exhorbitant facilities rental we do in NYC.

    And q, I think that's the nicest compliment I've gotten this week:
    You are very good at enjoying yourself.