Diving Sport Blog – rising up the boards!
It all happened a few years ago! – twisting turning…
Diving sport is great to be involved in. Anne’s blog recalls – but before she does.
“I was born into a swimming family, the last girl to arrive, my older sisters 8, 14 and 16 years away from me. Poor Dad was hoping for a boy but it wasn’t to be. Mum and Dad were busy members of West Bromwich Swimming Club, sitting on committees and officiating at galas and eventually becoming life members. My sisters were already Midland and club swimming champions. Dad had an ambition that one of my sisters would swim the Channel but, by desire or design, this never happened.
My blog goes onto say…one day… I was playing with my bucket and spade… and toddling around when…
From that day on, after my first introduction in the arms of my big teaching “sis”, I was taken frequently and got used to the idea. I couldn’t stand up to paddle nor could I swim, so I had to rely on my big teacher “sis” and her boyfriend carrying me around dousing me up and down.
Given the harness
After a while, I found myself in a harness being carried up and down the bath by someone who, to me, was a very old lady with a loud mouth. I didn’t like it.”
At the galas, I watched my sisters swimming to victory and picking up trophies, their beaux playing water polo, Mum and Dad at opposite ends of the pool with stop watches.
Between the galas I was taken to another big pool, but this time it was under a blue sky – the Kingfisher Lido near Kingswinford. I remember lovely weekends, playing in the fountains during what seemed to be persistently lovely summers. The lido had a higher-up camping field and my “soon to be” brother-in-law took his youth squad on many camping trips for treats. My sisters and I joined them. It was wonderful.
They apparently thought nothing of me wandering into the shallow end of the pool, where I could stand up, and I tried – oh so tried – to get my feet off the bottom. The old lady hadn’t been a great success with me over the last year, I was about five then.
Eventually, I could swim a little and retrieve myself after jumping in. It became the practice to move me slowly into the deeper water with assistance. The goal being that they could plant me on the poolside midway down the length of the bath, stand on the opposite side and beckon me to jump in and swim across.
Milky shake bribes
I didn’t like the idea much and they often had to patiently await my effort, offering bribes of lovely milk shakes on the way home. That usually did the trick, and… I made it to the other side! However, on one occasion, I can’t forget almost reaching the other side , but then started to sink.
Down I went, waiting to touch the bottom when I could give a good push up, but as I was making these plans, a body splashed down to my side, and my sister hoisted me up. Amazingly I hadn’t panicked and surprisingly wanted to do it again straight after – then… perhaps I’d get two milk shakes? And I did.
As weeks progressed, I became stronger and confident.
Big teaching “sis” started to think that I should tackle a swim of the bath lengthwise. Either she or my brother-in-law would start me off jumping in at the deep end. They were in the water to pluck me to the surface in case I didn’t come up. They swam alongside me and soon I was able to at least get towards the shallow end and stand up if I wanted to cheat. And then carry on.
When I was able to swim the whole length in a kind of dog paddle-breastroke, and with great sighs and gasps, they walked along the bathside as I swam near the wall. By this stage, my visits to the milkbar were very enjoyable. I was now six years old.
I enjoyed lots of camping visits to the Kingfisher Lido.
Another great Sunday trip, after Sunday school, was to the river – Grimley-upon-Severn, where mum and dad, my sisters and brother-in-laws picnicked and messed about and played in the river.
With family assistance, I swam across the river, which seemed an awful long way. In fact visiting in recent years, it was less than the 33.3 yards bath.
Beginnings of my plunge into diving sport!
The diving stage at the baths was a four boards “ladder” style up to the fifth board, which was about 4.5 metres. I was perched on the end of the first board, legs dangling over, with head and arms pointing down to the water. I was “helped” off the board and, if lucky, didn’t “splat” on all fours onto the water. I learned to keep my legs out of the way under the board as I toppled in. By the time I was six-and-a-half, I was moved up to to the TOP board. The first time there, I sat…and sat… and sat…on the end of the board.
My sister, bro-in-law and others were shouting, “come on’, “go”, “one-two-three GO”, but I remained stuck on the end of the board and wouldn’t budge.
On the fourth board up, it was a gigantic leap and, besides, there was an ugly black drain on the pool bottom directly below. Queues were forming down to the bottom board and, by the time they were forming along the poolside, I was called down the steps. Oh dear, NO milkshakes that day. Just a shaky me.
Big teaching “sis” was not to be beaten. On following visits, I carried out the usual routine of diving from the bottom board up to the top board but it was still “no go ” on top. I was encouraged to swim over the horrid black drain, and even surface dive towards it (with my eyes shut tight). I was a tiny wisp of a nearly seven-year-old and I’d never have reached down nine-and-a-half feet of water, not even toppling off the top board.
Over the course of the next few sessions, my confidence grew and again, I found myself “up on top”, There was a moment of hesitation, and…I took a big breath, closed my eyes (tut! tut!) and let myself fall. I waited for the impact into the water, then SPLISH SPLOSH. Upon swimming up towards the light, I heard a muffled roar of “hurrays” across the building, as many had been following my progress. I emerged from the pool a bit shaky and into the arms of big teaching “sis”. This was the start. I was rewarded with an enormous pink iced bun.
My technique had improved, and just before my birthday, I was able to sit on the end of the diving board, roll my stretched legs with pointed toes over my head and swing them back again. This gave me the momentum to leave the board into a streamlined dive into the water. I felt the bee’s knees. The annual gala was coming up soon and this little demonstration to a gasping audience, was included in the programme. It made the newspaper columns.
By this time, my attempted breaststroke had become stronger.
“The gala opening saw me swimming diagonally across the floodlit pool, floating a big bouquet of flowers with the mayoress awaiting my presentation.”
My sisters won most events, including the diving trophy. But the future was to decide who was the best at this diving sport.
During the course of the next few months, my big teaching “sis” and bro-in-law extended my swimming goal to 10 lengths of the pool. It was exhausting and boring but with the gradual increase I managed it. I’m sure big teaching “sis” added extra lengths, because I had to concentrate on my swimming rather than counting, and wait until she called out the last length.
Read more on Annes blog and her love of diving sport.
Part 2 continued…top board, lido days, riding pillion.
I’ll give you a pair of Maru Goggles if you can find a snippet on “Lost Lidos” at the bottom of a post. Also the bathing pool it takes you to! First person to email me gets the goggles. My email is at the spot – Anne
A Diving Club – click picture to enlarge