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Tuesday, April 23, 2013
The Three Quarter Flip
The Three Quarter Flip
My Aunt Phil lived in a suburb of Philadelphia. It was farmland then, it is mostly McMansions now. Her house was on several acres and she had an in-ground swimming pool. I spent a week with Aunt Phil one summer. I think I was about twelve. I don’t remember the reason I spent this week on “The Farm” (to me it was a farm, there may have been a vegetable patch) probably my parents were on vacation and needed to pawn me off.
It would have been a boring week except for my cousin Ronnie. Ronnie was two years older than I was. I spent the week following him around like a puppy dog.
Most of the time was spent in the pool. Ronnie was able to do a full flip off the low diving board, one full turn and land straight in on his feet. It was my goal to learn to also do a flip off the low board.
I must have attempted 500 flips off that board. Everyone was completed to three quarter perfection. A three quarter flip would have me land, legs and feet stretched out, perfectly on my back. Instead of a silent swish in the water, I landed with a giant slap. Every attempt was the same, and every attempt was painful, but I was intent on learning to do a perfect flip. With Ronnie’s guidance and instruction on the last day of my visit I was eventually able to realize that I was never going to complete a full flip. It took one week for me to learn that if you try really hard and practice for a really long time, there was still some stuff that you will never be able to do.
I never tried to do a flip off a board again.
Fast forward and I had three children all participating on a swim team at a local swim club. Both my oldest son Mike and the youngest Matt were able to do one and a half flips off the low board. One and a half turns and they would land a head first swish. Every time I witnessed their diving I was taken back to my failed and painful attempts.
My daughter, Mary Beth, was on the diving team. I don’t recall if she could do a double flip, I’m pretty sure she could do a one and a half. I do remember she was a pretty good diver. She was not the best on the team as she started diving much later than several other girls, but she was graceful and she was good.
Mary Beth worked hard at diving and she was improving. Then one day while I was at work I got a call. Mary Beth slipped off a slightly wet board while practicing. She came down hard on her leg, the tibia (I think) snapped. I will not get graphic here, but it was described to me as let’s just say very friggin gruesome. She was eight weeks or more in a cast, the first week in a wheelchair, and she walked with a slight limp for over a year.
I don’t think Mary Beth ever dove again.
I never told any of my children of my week of three quarter flips. My sons could do a flip; my daughter could do a flip if the board was not wet. I don’t think that Spencer, my fifteen year old, has ever tried.
He’s pretty good at most sports.
I’m going to recommend he stay off the diving board.