Thursday, July 19, 2012

In the Deep End

Have you ever jumpped before you thought, really thought about what will happen after you jump? Where will you land, how will you land, is the water deep enough, will anyone help me if I get into trouble?

My grandson has been going swimming almost every night with a young friend who is taking swimming lessons. DJ has never taken swimming lessons but loves the water, would morph into a fish if he knew how and loves everything about the Ocean. I can't believe I have never thought about swimming lessons for him.

He was talking about jummping off the diving board when he got home with such excitment that these days, I can only envy. I can't remember being that excited about anything for maybe a decade, except when my grandkids were born.

The pool he goes to does not have a high board, in fact, I can't recall any of the pools in our town that have the low, mid and high diving boards we had in the 50's.

My brother and I would walk to the bus station with our nickle for fare and ride the bus to the nearest large town that had a pool, since our little town didn't have a pool. We would ride for about an hour and then have to walk from the bus station in that town to the city pool. I can feel the excitment right now and have a smile on my face I recall seeing the high dive before actually seeing the pool. This was going to be the day I climb that ladder and jump into the deep end with the bigger kids, it was time. I wasn't a baby any longer, I was in 2nd grade for goodness sakes.

Not yet the dare devil I finally became in my teens, I usually only made it to the mid-level dive board but didn't feel the thrill I heard from the shreaks of the high dive kids that were plunging into the water next to my board. I wasn't on the baby board, as everyone called it, closest to the ladder that led to the safety of solid ground, but I wasn't flying like the bigger kids on the high dive either.

The day I climbed the ladder to the high dive, I didn't think about the butt that was in my face all the way up the steps as we waited for the ones in front to jump then clear the water below so the next one could jump. I also didn't think about the kid beind me that had my butt in his face as he waited his turn, we were all anxious but now I wonder, what was going through their heads. I know what was going through my head. WHAT HAD I DONE!! I was the smallest kid on the board. The life guard told me, don't climb if you won't jump, no one was allowed to climb back down. The ladder was piled with kids who would not move to let anyone climb back down anyway, we had to jump it we went up the ladder.

A little more than half way up, I changed my mind. I was terrified as I looked down. It reminded me of being in a huge tree or on top of the house, which I was forbidden to be but did anyway. I was warned of the dangers of climbing as high as the roof of my house and I must be twice that high on the ladder. I asked the kid with his face in my butt, can I climb down? He yelled, with about 5 kids below him, NO!

When I got to the top, the kids behind me along with the lifeguard began yelling. I couldn't understand what they were saying, I was frozen on the end of the board. Then the chant started, "Jump, jump, jump!" Terrified, knowing there was a horrible and painful death waiting for me in the water below, I couldn't move, couldn't think, I was glued to the spot then suddenly, I was flying and the water was rushing up to greet me. I forgot to take a breath. My feet touched the bottom of the pool. I only flet the bottom of the pool in the shallow end, never the deep end. My lungs burned as they screamed for air. I knew I would never reach the surface, bubbles surrounded me, for sure slowing my attempt to reach safety. Just as suddenly, I burst through the surface confused buy the applause and how I ended up in the deep end when I was frozen on the high board. I looked up to make sure I wasn't still there as the kids began to chant "move, move, move" and the lifeguard blew his whistle of power and pointed to the ladder for my exit from the pool. I was never so relieved in my life, for sure I just narrowly missed certain death.

I survied the deep end. Somehow, without relizing it happened, I was climbing that ladder again, my heart beating so hard I knew it was making my chest hit the slippery ladder, wet from the dripping kids above me. I didn't care, I just knew, I wanted more.

If there is something I could give to DJ each day when he goes swimming, it would be that feeling I had on the day I jumpped into the deep end.


  1. yup, that first meeting with death and the thrill of beating it. no feeling like it. :)

  2. griper.... first meeting, I wish. Last meeting, not likely, right! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, I appreciate it, T