Coming to a crash

Diver’s experience with hitting the board brings perseverance


Graphic by Langley Leverett

Story by Joseph Asher, staff writer

The world around me comes to a complete halt. Sounds of my heart can be heard from miles away. I inhale. I walk down the board. Three steps, just three steps and I’m off. My eyes go from seeing a crowd, to seeing the ceiling, and then abruptly, the board. In that brief second, I realize I’m not where I’m supposed to be. Smack.

It was the first meet of the season. Weeks of practice had taken place. Weeks of hour-long workouts, learning new techniques and critiquing the faults in each dive — all of this in an attempt to achieve the highest scores possible for these dives.

I joined dive my freshman year, and soon after, I realized that it would require more than just practice and hard work. It is a sport derived from fearlessness, not being scared to do flips and bends just inches away from the board. After coming to this realization, I wanted nothing more than to be a part of the team.

I was not prepared for the screwups and failures. Those were the dives that ended with a smack. Landing flat on my back and stomach numerous times, only to get right back up and try it again. It was painful, but it instilled life lessons within me, lessons not to give up.

Freshman year of dive went by quick. I went all the way to regionals and, to my surprise, placed fifth. Overall, it was a great first year, and not once did I come close to hitting the board.

It was this feeling of overconfidence that led to my downfall. I let myself believe that I could do any dive and that it would be a success every time. This was simply not the case, however. I wasn’t this amazing diver. I still had so much to learn.

I had practiced this dive numerous times, and it was by far the scariest one I had ever done. Reverse dive straight. The fear of coming back and hitting the board was ever so present. I relied on a leap of faith that I would land the dive and not suffer from immense pain.

Something in that very moment was telling me not to let fear overpower me and just go for it. I learned a valuable life lesson that day, a lesson that has only boosted the confidence in myself.”

— Joseph Asher

The day of the meet was stressful. Seeing how it was the first one of the season, all I wanted was to do well. I went over all my dives again and again. Perfecting each one, breaking them down and fixing any errors. I was ready.

The time came, and I stepped onto the board. The judge called the dive — the dive I had felt so prepared for.     

I was wrong. I became too proud of myself, and I managed to screw up the dive. The screams of the crowd were blaring in my ears, and I felt the board. I surfaced from the water, and all I felt was shock and disbelief that I actually hit the board. My leg was pounding and my arm felt numb. In that moment, I thought I had broken something. I felt like I was slowly bleeding out. I got out of the water and took a deep breath, taking a few seconds to calm my nerves. My injuries weren’t as extreme as I made them out to be. Simply a bruised, scraped up knee and a minor cut on my arm.

My coach came up to me, addressed me and told me to get up and do the dive again. I wanted nothing more than to stop. The fear of hitting the board again outweighed the pain I felt, but something inside me pushed me to get up, wipe off my knees and try again.

I did, and it wasn’t easy. I repeatedly stopped myself at the end of my takeoff or simply just jumped off the board. I was letting fear overcome me, and I was allowing my mind to shut down. I was so afraid of the dive that I thought I was never going to do it again.

But after being yelled at a couple of times, I mustered up enough strength to do the dive once more. It wasn’t the best dive I had ever done, but the feeling of accomplishment was swelled within me.

Something in that very moment was telling me not to let fear overpower me and just go for it. I learned a valuable life lesson that day, a lesson that has only boosted the confidence in myself.