More swimming videos today so… another swim instructor memory. I remember that one of the treats I often dangled in front of my beginner class students if they met the goals we set at the beginning of the class, and ONLY IF THEY WANTED TO, is that I would take them onto the high dive and let them jump off it.
The high dive to a five year old might as well have been Mount Everest. It was at once intimidating and enticing. It was a great reward to offer as I knew that all of the kids wanted to do it and few if any would have the courage to take me up on it.
But there’s always the exception. There was this one kid I had and all he talked about for two weeks was jumping off the high dive. I knew I was going to have to honor my promise.
So on the last day of the class after congratulating all the students for how well they did, I asked, “Who wants to jump off the high dive?” No one raised their hand… except that one kid.
I tried to talk him out of it. No dice. So, I led him to the diving board. Had him start the long climb up to the diving platform, being sure I was right behind him on the ladder. We reached the board and hand in hand began to inch our way to the end. I looked at him. He seemed eager. So I said, “Here we go… I’ll count to three and then we’ll jump. One… Two… Three…
What follows is best imagined in slow motion. I jumped. He didn’t. Sensing something amiss, I twisted my body to face the board even as gravity began to pull at me. I saw his terrified face. Suddenly, he lunged off the board, wrapping his arms and legs around my head and neck as we plummeted toward the water.
Remember the scene in Die Hard when Alan Rickman fell off the tower at the end? I imagine that’s how I looked. I hit the water square on my back, the kid safely nestled on my chest.
As I made my way with my excited student in tow to the edge of the pool I’m pretty sure I heard a fair amount of snickering coming from the parents in attendance. And more than one guffaw.
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