Saturday at lunch, I asked Alex if he was excited about his dive meet the next morning. He got a little evasive.
“Kind of? Why?”
“I’ve been having trouble with my front flip. I keep over-rotating.”
And he sounded genuinely sad about it. Please note that the front flip is Alex’s signature dive. He is the master of the front flip; it’s historically where he gets his highest scores.
“Then let’s go to the pool right after lunch. You can practice your dives.”
He perked right up. “Yeah – I’ll do front flip, one-and-a-half, front flip, one-and-a-half and do them each about a million times.” And off we went to the pool along with Alex’s Pop-Pop. The boy got to the diving board, tried his flip…he was right. He was over-rotating.
Here’s the thing. The next day Alex was in a dive meet, but he wasn’t competing against the other divers. He was in a class of his own trying to qualify for the Junior Olympics (JO). This means where the other divers were doing 3 dives, Alex would be doing 5. Herein came the problem.
Alex had recently learned to do a one-and-a-half. This is where he does a complete flip, then keeps rotating another 180 degrees until he goes into the water in a dive. This had screwed up everything. The front flip and the one-and-a-half had blended together. He rotated too far on the flip and too little on the one-and-a-half. Both dives were a mess.
“I don’t think I’m going to qualify,” he told me with he eyes down on his chest.
My Alex is not a creature of self-doubt, and to be honest this really concerned me. I was about to give him the old: “Of course you’ll qualify” in raucous Dad tone, but then I started doing the math. Alex had scored a 59 at the last meet and done 3 dives – plus he’d nailed all three. To qualify for JO he needed a score of 94. That meant he had to do even better.
“Look,” I told him, “if you don’t qualify, there’s another dive meet next weekend. You’ll have a whole week to practice for that.”
6AM my alarm went off. I made coffee and then went to wake up Alex.
“I’m so excited,” was the first thing he said, which I took to be a good sign. Maybe the self-doubt was gone.
We got him there for warm ups, but he was still over-rotating. He was getting closer to getting his front flip right, but he needed more time. However the damn line of kids warming up was just too long. I was pretty nervous for him.
Meet started, they got through the girls, then the boys, then Alex.
“Alex will be doing a front flip. Degree of difficulty: 1.4”
I hadn’t known the flip was first – we’d see real quick how things were going to go for our boy. Alex got up on the board, started his approached, in the air…
Perfect flip. Went in exactly right. I heard the gasp from his coach.
I tried adding that up in my head, but I have deep doubts about my ability to accurately score a dive. Next up…
One-and-one-half. Degree of difficulty: 1.6. Up the boy went, whipped around and around and plunged into the pool in a dive.
Back dive. Arced into the pool in a gorgeous descent.
Inward. This one scares the shit out of me. The boy shot backwards and turned down to dive right into the water.
Flip and half twist. This mother had a 1.7 degree of difficulty, which I knew was good for points. The higher the difficulty, the more points it’s worth. I found myself on my phone trying to calculate how close he was to the 94.5 he needed to qualify.
Alex got up, did his approach, into the air in a flip and twist.
The final result:
If you missed it, his score was 130.85. And where my head is going…scholarship!