When I was about eight years old I had my first lesson in diving at the Camp Wildbrook pool in Cincinnati.
Initially, diving terrified me. My thinking went: if I dive headfirst, the entire pool will enter my nose, and I’ll drown – or – somehow the liquid, watery water will magically harden and I’ll break my neck. And so on. My mind zipped through endless configurations where I drowned or became paralyzed. So, I’d stand by the edge of the pool, head down, arched over, arms in perfect V-formation – and then jump into the pool.
But the Camp Wildbrook swim instructor had an ingenious idea to help kids like me.
“I’ll hold your legs,” she said. “And you dive in.”
I was incredulous. Oh, sure. Like that makes sense! That way when I crack my skull – my legs will still be poolside, already paralyzed. No thanks!
Over and over she’d try to hold my legs still. But I’d always wriggle free and flail into the water, heads-up, sideways, belly-flop.
“How was that?!” I’d say.
And she’d smile and sort-of half nod and shake her head.
A few years later, I overcame my fear and learned the proper way to dive. In fact, I love diving now and continue to this day. Though never off the high board. That’s too scary, and I’m sure the water actually would harden if I ever tried that.