As you make the short climb up the diving board ladder, the beauty of another perfect summer evening permeates every inch of your being. You’re poolside in your buddy’s backyard with some of your closest friends, a handful of gorgeous girls are looking on, the Long Island iced teas you’ve been sucking down are working their magic, and you’re about to absolutely nail this trick dive in order to beat your best friend in a competitive, spontaneous diving competition.
As you stand atop the diving board and glimpse the tangerine sun disappearing behind the enormous trees in the distance, you feel that, shrinkage aside, you’re looking like a million dollars in your new Speedo, and this one’s in the bag. Your buddies bombard you with playful insults, the girls cheer you on, and you head toward the water at a dead sprint.
Adrenaline pumping, you reach the end of the diving board and fire your left knee toward the sky while attempting to propel yourself from the board with an explosive surge from your right foot. As you do, your foot slips, your momentum rockets your upper body backward, and the back of your head meets the edge of the diving board in a thunderous collision of unforgiving aluminum and skull. In mere seconds, your moment of glory morphed into a lifetime of regrettable paralysis, all because you were incapable of practicing safe diving technique.
Joking aside, in a state like Ohio, kids behave recklessly on a daily basis during the summer, seeking cheap thrills that a long, cold winter, wet spring, and extensive school year denied them.
In an April 2011 livestrong.com article, writer W.D. Adkins reported that approximately 11,000 diving accidents occur every year, and because of the nature of the maneuver, acrobatic miscues put the skull, brain, and spine at great risk for injury. Because of the importance of these areas and the extreme role they play in regard to the human body’s overall function, it is essential that people practice safe diving when they hit the pool for some fun this summer.
In order to stay safe and assure that your day in the sun does not end in tragedy, here are some simple tips you should follow to make sure you can walk away from the local pool on your own two feet:
- Never. Ever. Attempt to leap or dive into the water from the side of a diving board, as it puts you at risk for a collision with the side of the pool;
- Be sure that the diving board you will be vaulting from is in good condition, as a dirty or cracked board can easily lead to a slip that may be both painful and embarrassing;
- Avoid diving alone (this goes for swimming as well);
- Resist the sometimes overwhelming urge to dive onto something or someone floating in the pool, since contact with an object (or friend) may be a recipe for disaster;
- Though exhilarating, do not run to the end of the board in your approach to the dive as this greatly increases the likelihood of a slip; and
- No matter how much fun it might appear to be when you have a buzz, never drink and dive.
Finally, please, know your limits as a diver. In September of 1998, American diver Greg Louganis got to know the board a bit too personally during one of his preliminary dives in the summer Olympic games in Seoul when the edge of the diving board cracked open the back of his head on his descent into the water. He was both the defending Olympic champion as well as the best diver in the world at the time. Thankfully, Louganis narrowly avoided significant injury, and he later went on to defend his title as Olympic gold medalist in the springboard event. Should you neglect to dive safely while at the pool in the coming months, you may not be so lucky. Please, have a blast in the water this summer, but be safe!