Archive for January 18th, 2008

Training For Life

DSCN1474Miss L has a diving competition this weekend. It’s an annual event put on by the diving club in this city, a national qualifying event, with about 200 divers from all across Canada competing. It’s run by parent volunteers (of course), so I’ll be there for all three days, soaking in the chloriney smells, and exulting in the jostling, squealing exuberance of the athletes. I know enough from previous years to prepare in advance by taking an extra-strength Tylenol with my hearty breakfast, and taking care to stay hydrated during the day, but I’m fully expecting an extra-strength headache to firmly lodge itself behind my eyes by about hour three.

That being said, L’s excitement is contagious, and I’m looking forward to watching her compete. She’s been diving since she was 6, when she saw the divers do their thing at the pool and begged to take a class. By the time she was 8 or so she was diving competitively, and she’s been training 12 hours a week since then. She’s been to Edmonton, Thunder Bay, Saskatoon, Montreal, Regina, and Orlando with the club, has competed in age-group nationals, and last summer got a chance to dive in the Western Canada Summer Games.

I’m so proud of her. I’ve seen her overcome tremendous fear and make it through some pretty harrowing incidents on the board. Last year she was learning a new dive off the 3M springboard, a reverse double back somersault with a half twist or some such thing, and for some reason, the thought of doing this particular dive gave her the heebie jeebies. For weeks leading up to it she worried about it, and on the drive home from practice every day I heard her say how scared she was to do it. When the fateful day finally arrived, I happened to be in the stands, and I saw her first attempt. She stood at the end of the board for what seemed like forever, clenching and unclenching her fists. A couple of times she made as if to go, and then hesitated. She looked on the verge of tears, and I felt sick at the sight of fear on her face. I almost stood up and told her not to do it, that it wasn’t such a big deal, but I didn’t. I just sat there, internally cringing. Her decision, I thought. Gotta stay out of it.

The hemming and hawing went on interminably, the coach looking up, coaxing, the other divers beginning to pay attention, the stands growing silent. More fist clenching, more brow furrowing, and a few more false starts. Then a look of determination passed across her face, I saw her whisper something to herself, she took two slow, deliberate breaths, threw back her shoulders……. and did it.

Eruptions of applause from the rest of the divers, and a huge beaming smile when she surfaced. I was absolutely overcome with pride. She had been SO scared, and she had done it. She’d been all alone on that board, faced that fear all by herself, talked herself past what must have been the overwhelming desire to say she couldn’t do it, and done it. This kid will be able to do anything now I thought. Nothing in her life will seem insurmountable after repeated experiences like this one. What a kid.

She had scary dives before, and she’s had them since, but this one stuck out in my head. I still get goosebumply when I remember it.

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