By MASON McCLAY – STAFF WRITER
Each year carries its own unique and novel thrills that never cease to entertain Centre’s student body, although through sometimes very unexpected means.
However, traditional activities have always been carried wholeheartedly in our culture—particularly sports. As a former sportist (err, athlete), I’m committed to researching some of the more cult-driven sporting events (e.g. pole-vaulting) through advice from our college’s own experts as well as my own completely unscientific experimentation. After a sweltering summer season, my focus is on a cooler event: diving.
I spoke with several of Centre’s divers to collect a myriad of advice which I then applied in my own attempt. I made ten diving attempts, utilizing a different point of advice for each attempt. Every tip has its own quirk (some ritualistic, some just strange); however, I wasn’t too surprised given only the interesting sort of people enjoy being catapulted dangerously into the air. The results, albeit showcasing my athletic ineptitude, definitely highlight the intricacies of competitive diving:
1) Advice: “Before any event, you gotta make sure to get one good smack, because you will eventually smack. You have to become immune to the pain of smackage, on your back and your belly.” (Jack Miller ’18)
Result: I decided to experiment with this tip first in order to get the pain out of the way early. Notorious as an eight-year-old at the pool for my belly-flops, this seemed almost natural. Yet I didn’t consider the extra force of my 20-year-old body. The redness remains, but the pain prepared me for subsequent jumps.
2) Advice: “For girls, don’t shave your legs for a week before the event. This will make it so you have some traction when you grip your legs during the dive.” (Anonymous)
Result: Well. Given that my legs don’t get cold during the winter, this was relatively easy to apply—except for the problem of not knowing how to grip them when diving. I decided to try an awkward flip, and prevailed, except my trajectory was diagonal.
3) Advice: “Before you dive, you can easily over-think. So just don’t think at all.” (Jack Miller ’18)
Result: My mind was vacant, my heart was full, and my jump was parabolic. It was a successful attempt with a clean dismount.
4) Advice: “Before you practice, try hurtling and doing toe-touches. This will help with flexibility as you fly.” (Kyle Settles ’17)
Result: As a former track runner, one of the more easy athletics hurtles I’ve encountered have been, well, hurtles. A few hundred meters of hurtling boosted my confidence while adjusting my hip flexors. A bit of toe-touching did wonders for my hammies and the effect was profound. A great dive.
5) Advice: “Don’t forget to have a good body. You can impress judges in more than one way.” (Jack Miller ’18)
Result: Although judges were few, I was able to round up some first-years that seemed easily impressed. A few pushups behind the curtains beforehand had them standing in awe before my dive even commenced. Definitely a successful tip.
6) Advice: “Try to point your toes throughout the jump.” (Kyle Settles ’17)
Result: With pointed toes I sailed, and flopped, miserably, with a bad foot cramp. Luckily a real swimmer was watching me for entertainment and was able to throw me a noodle.
7) Advice: “Grab your hair when you spin.” (Kyle Settles ’17)
Result: Finally something a bit simple. At this point it was difficult to resist combining points of advice (although the great body advice isn’t a choice), but I was able to grab my hair while flipping without pointing my toes or not thinking. It was much easier to gain centripetal force, allowing me to complete my first real flip.
8) Advice: “Watch something really enjoyable before you dive. It’ll ease the nerves and boost your mood, which definitely helps.” (Kelsi Moran ’17)
Result: Shrek was as good as ever, and put me in amquest-seeking mood. With the emotional inertia of a fearless colonel, I flew off the board with enough air time to think of regretting my jump before hitting the water. The fear of smacking had not yet passed, and was indeed painful.
9) Adivce: “Rituals can be pretty important for some people. Pick something to do for each jump, and don’t change it. I rotate the fulcrum with my food before every jump.” (Jack Miller ’18)
Result: A bit of a difficult tip to utilize in my experiment, however I realized there was something I have been doing unconsciously before every dive: shaking my giant thighs. I few conscious thigh shakes served to calm my mind and provide me with a rhythm, resulting in spectacular form.
10) Advice: “Do your best. Be your best. No regrets.” (Jack Miller ’18, quoting President John Roush)
Result: The motto resounding through my spirit with enough inspiration to ignite the flames of one thousand hearts. The mind: perfect. The jump: exquisite. The land: a very large smack.
Considering the courage that I continuously had to muster to fling myself onto a surface of water, the most genuine and bravest advice I received was the first I applied: cozy up to smacking the water with your body. Although the advice was never truly mastered, the forewarning did give me perseverance. Happy diving!