Misadventures in Wonderland: High diving

Our intrepid columnist Alice climbed the high dive boards - here's what happened next

Misadventures in Wonderland: High diving

Why diving?
I met someone I went to school with while I was in a pub and she told me she teaches diving, so this is a classic example of when small talk spirals out of control. Also, with all the press surrounding Tom Daley I thought I’d give it a go. I mean, the diving thing.

What happens when you’re there?
Edinburgh’s Royal Commonwealth Pool has incredible facilities for practising your high-dive form. There’s a warm-up room before you get stuck into face-planting some water (we’ll get to my worst nightmare later). After you’ve leapt about on dry land for a bit, you go downstairs and practise what you’ve learnt by falling into a very, very deep tank from different heights, then there’s free time to work on your confidence.

What’s it like?
Fantastic. Despite the water slapping the skin on the back of your legs when you tip too far forward, like when you were little and misbehaved in the supermarket back when smacking was a thing. Jumping in is definitely the best thing about swimming anywhere. Now imagine that best bit over and over again. Could’ve done without all the climbing out the pool every time, but if I did it on a regular basis my stomach muscles would be incredible. Exercise makes you hotter – who knew?

So what was the bad bit?
Before the light, there’s a tunnel, and for every silver lining, there’s a cloud. I was the first one to the poolside that day. I had a far-too-tight swimming costume on in fear that otherwise it would fall off. Slowly, people started turning up in shorts and t-shirts. I didn’t know about the dry practice room. We were led upstairs into a light-filled studio with practice boards, a trampoline and some springy mats on the ground. One wall of the studio was a floor-to-ceiling window that looked onto a children’s play area with kids and parents watching. That day, I practised forward rolls in my spandex underwear, in a glass cage, in front of fully dressed people. If you go, please remember to take shorts. I imagine I looked like if Little Britain was doing a parody of Kate Upton.

Did I overcome any other fears?
Over the last few years I’ve noticed I’m not taking the same risks I used to. I haven’t jumped off a boat in the middle of the night in ages; I haven’t even tried to get over the top bar on the swings for about ten years. I think I’m a bad-ass when I eat a mussel whose shell hasn’t opened fully. Am I becoming frightened? Am I scared of stuff now? Is this who I am? No it’s not. I knew that before the lesson was over I was going to jump off the highest board I could. I did. It was scary but it wasn’t nearly as bad as jumping around with my arse out under strip lighting.

Adult diving classes take place at the Royal Commonwealth Pool, Edinburgh, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from January onwards. See edinburghleisure.co.uk for more details.


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