Without a Splash | Teen Ink

Without a Splash MAG

By Anonymous

     I know I am up. To have the announcer remind me is a bit unnecessary. “Lauren, Mizzou, 105C. Front two and one half tuck. 2.4.” Why else would I leave the comforts of the hot tub? After stepping out of the steam, I walk toward the concrete slab the board rests on. My eyes wander to my teammates, who take this opportunity to scream, “Yeah, Puddin’!” my embarrassing nickname, making me crack a grin.

Climbing the steps, being careful not to slip, I remember what my coach told me before I left for the pool deck. “Keep your head up, Lauren. Don’t let it drop. Remember, stretch and really go after your tuck! Hey, relax! You’ve got this dive. This is your meet! Just don’t go easy. Give it all you’ve got.” My coach has a way of making it all seem so effortless.

As I step on the aquamarine board, the sparkling blue water reminds of the fear I’m trying to suppress. I drop my right foot below the board and grab hold of the cold metal bar on my other side. My foot finds the coarse fulcrum with ease as I continue staring into the looming water. The fulcrum’s gritty surface scratches my toes as I roll it to just the right spot, 8.5. Not all the way to 9, but I’m not playing it too safe at 8. The noise around me fades as I find my footing.

The kids in the hot tub, the spectators in the stands, the gurgling of the water in the gutter, all give way to the sole beat of my heart and my quickening intake of air. I stand with my feet together, adjusting my suit. I tug at the top straps, all the while admiring my new pedicure - magenta with white hibiscus flowers on my big toes.

I lift my head to the windows, return from my own world, and all the noises and smells and thoughts flood back to me. Chlorine stings my nostrils as I try to concentrate on the task ahead. Hmm, that diver from Clayton is pretty cute ... No! Not boys, diving! Front 2.5, Front 2.5, Front 2.5, cute diver, no! Front 2.5! I take three long, deep breaths, filling my body with humid air, letting my fears escape with my exhale, and step.

Not too big a step, just right, one of the best I’ve done ... concentrate! Remembering to keep my arms behind me, I take my second step and bring my arms forward just a tad, and then wonder if I’ve done my math homework. Dive now, school later! “Heel-toe forward to the tip of your foot,” my coach’s voice rings in my head. Making sure to plant my heel and then roll forward, I take my third and final step. My heart is having a field day, about to burst from my chest as I raise my hands above my head while lifting my right knee up toward my chest, toes down and pointed. I drive my leg back down, planting both feet on the board again, feeling its grittiness for the last time, and jump.

The first few moments of weightlessness are priceless. It’s like you’re Superman, flying off to save the day, or a bold bald eagle, soaring above a mountain lake. That pristine feeling doesn’t last long - my body shifts into overdrive. I throw my arms from above my head to the smooth surface of my shins, while curling my body into a tight ball, with knees in place in the pit of my shoulders and head tucked, looking at my feet. I see the ceiling flash by as I complete the first flip. Did I eat breakfast this morning? I wonder.

Here comes the second flip. But, really, did I do my math homework? No time to worry about equations, there’s my spot! As if on cue, I kick my pointed toes toward the ceiling while stretching out my entire body, reaching for the water with my hands once more above my head, my left hand grabbing the fingers of my right, which is turned instinctively palm to the water. My whole body braces for the impact and my hands hit the glassy surface of the pool.

Water rushes at me from all sides as I push through it without a splash. Swoosh, the sound ricochets through my ears, resonating in my chest. I bend at the waist and swim my arms to the sides to keep my body in the space I’ve created. Then I open my eyes, and am face-to-face with the giant gold and black mosaic tiger at the bottom of the pool. It takes me a few seconds to realize my lungs are burning for lack of air, so I struggle to swim up to the blurry lights. As my head breaks the tension of the surface, the explosion of cheers, yells and whistles that greet me lets me know, even before I open my eyes and glance at the judges’ flashing scores, that I have nailed the dive. Now I can go talk to that cute Clayton diver. Finally

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