Diving in | PostIndependent.com
YOUR AD HERE »

Diving in

April E. Clark
April in Glenwood
April Clark
Staff Photo |

The concept of diving into water seems simple enough.

Bend the knees. Point arms above the head. Drop the chin. Then propel myself forward, head-first, into the water. No big deal, right?

It has been for me.

People have been diving for ages. Kids have been trumping me on this seemingly simple task since I was one myself. Before last weekend, I had tried to dive, unsuccessfully, too many times to even count.

I should have kept a tally.

When I was about 6, I took swimming lessons. A far as I can remember, they weren’t as fun as I envisioned. According to my mother, who had to jog my memory — because I likely blocked out the experience — I wasn’t real crazy about the swimming lessons. I definitely didn’t want any part of the deep end. I had an experience in Florida when I was in the deep end of a pool before I fully knew how to swim and it frightened me. When it came time to jump off a diving board at the end of the lessons, I completely froze. I bailed. I just couldn’t do it.

Luckily this was the pre-Internet video era.

I spent the following summers of my childhood swimming and trying to follow in the lead of friends. They dove into pools and lakes with carefree whimsy. I either took the stairs or the cannonball route, forming into a ball and jumping into the water with a splash.

I probably won’t stop that anytime soon.

In high school, my boyfriend had a pool and tried everything possible to teach me how to dive. I would have him hold my feet on the cement. That didn’t work. I would try to fall into the water, leading with my head.

Definitely didn’t work.

I tried to learn to dive throughout college, too. It’s not that I have a debilitating fear of heights — I once went cliff jumping at an Indiana quarry, launching off a 30 foot-high ledge holding my boyfriend’s hand. I put my legs up before hitting the water, likely because of my cannonball habit, and ended up with a gnarly bruise on my upper leg.

That’s a lesson I learned quickly.

At some point, I remember deciding my chances of learning to dive were as unlikely as cliff jumping again. So I gave up. I resolved to only watch others gracefully access the water while I opted for the never-grow-up method of entry.

That was at least good for a laugh.

Then last weekend, while watching my friends’ triplets and the neighborhood kids dive into the pool with a tinge of watered-down envy, I decided to put mind over matter. I was finally going to learn to dive.

And of course have a kid teach me how.

I asked Wyndell, who at 12 already has one of those old souls that reminds me of a fun grandpa, to help. Even though I’m 30 years his senior, and clearly should have correctly learned to dive into a pool by mid-life, he saw that as no big deal. I knew he would have the patience to get me through this.

I needed all the help I could muster.

I was coached to point my arms above my head. Drop my chin. Then propel myself forward, head-first, into the water. No big deal, right? Actually, I had made a way bigger deal out of it than it really is.

Another life lesson learned the long way.

Feeling especially confident, I tried the diving board first. Talk about a failure to launch. I flashbacked to being a kid, chickening out on diving at the end of those swimming lessons. I decided that with a little more height to the side of the pool, the diving board was going to take some time.

That was probably for the best.

With coaching from the kids — by this point I had attracted a young audience — I perched myself on the warm concrete at the deep-end of the pool and bent my knees, probably more than most divers do.

I had to do what I had to do.

I pointed my arms forward, peered into the crystal-clear water, and told myself I could do it. I let go of the idea that I can’t. I made it a non-option. I realized I always used that as an excuse, and that would stop at exactly that moment. All I needed to do was to put my mind to it. That if I believe I can doing anything, especially dive for the first time, I can.

And it worked.

Once I felt the rush of the water hitting my face by diving head-first — as opposed to the bottom or feet route — I wanted to get right out of the pool and do it again. There was that first-time exhilaration and excitement of experiencing a real dive for the first time. Most of all, I felt accomplishment.

I couldn’t wait to do it again.

I felt like a kid who just learned to ride a bike. I wanted to practice and improve. My best friend Megan arrived and I had to show her what I had just learned, like she was my mom and I was 6. She loved it.

“That was absolutely the best thing I’ve seen all day,” she said.

I had to agree.

April E. Clark is trying something new this week. She can be reached at aprilelizabethclark@gmail.com.


Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.

For tax deductible donations, click here.
 

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User