I’m rushed, so I’ll put this here and hope I get back to it before you read it…
How it was determined that I would be a swimmer.
I grew up in a small town. My parents had moved into this small town with it’s small town traditions and expectations, filled with the traditions and expectations of people who had grown up in a much bigger town.
Water sports in my little town included fishin’, Marco Polo was an up and comer.
Dad wanted me to be a diver! Like my older brother. And I was one wiry kid with to ability to curl up and twist like a wire you use to keep a bag of bread closed. But I had trust issues. You can call it “you were a chicken poop!” And, well I have said it myself often.
This particular day at the town swimming hole (it was “formal” you paid admission to get in, I’m not talking about “skinny dippin down to the crick.”) and there was a raft that was anchored about 25 yards out (give or take). Where the water was probably 8 or 9 feet deep. Deep enough that it was a rite of passage that you could touch bottom, and you had to bring up mud to prove it. Sometimes the water would eat your mud proof before you made it all the way back up again. Because you were always sure you were going to come up under the raft and bonk your head and gash it open and you’d need stitches if you didn’t knock yourself out and drown in stead.
So it is Sunday afternoon in July, and the whole town (it seems like) is there. And they’re watching as Jim and Ralph are trying to teach the young one how to do a half gainer off the raft. Ralph was the diver for the high school swim team which you might want to visit Weirdness 9 and learn about. He could probably do a half gainer off the raft.
A half gainer is when you jump out and they essentially do a half back flip in mid air so you enter the water head first (not including your hands which are supposed to be above/ below your water bound cabezza melon.)
It didn’t make sense to me to jump off a raft and then throw your head back at the raft, and not expect it to splat on the raft. and so all 56 pounds of wiry me would jump off the raft and my head would go back the half inch my stiffened EVERYTHING below it would let it.
My feet would try to follow instructions and go over my head. But they didn’t like the idea! The times when I’d curl up into a ball, I’d then fall like a stone splat into the water.
Have you ever seen a kid get spanked? You see how his back concaves as he clenches his butt cheeks? Well after a few, several tries and absolutely insane encouragement from my father, “Throw your head back and the rest of your body will follow.” Which