Jump In

December 18, 2008
By Alyssa Lipuma, Downers Grove, IL

My muscles were tight in anticipation as I crouched at the edge of the diving board. Then, without thinking twice, I closed my eyes, reached my tiny hands to the sky, and jumped.
It was a warm summer morning as I rode in the car with my mom, the windows rolled down, the soft breeze rustling my short brown hair. The upbeat tempo of a popular song by the Goo Goo Dolls played on the radio as I sat happily in the back seat, wearing my sparkly hot pink swimsuit. It was another day of swim lessons and I was more than eager to begin. We arrived at the pool, and I held my mother’s hand as we proceeded to the five year old division swim lessons. My instructor, Katie, greeted me with a cheerful, “Hey kiddo, how are ya?” and helped me into the pool with my other classmates. Swim lessons always started out the same way: First, we’d practice kicking by holding on to the ledge of the pool, allowing our short legs to swing about freely behind us. Next, we would hold contests to see who could hold their breath the longest and I would always come in second place after my best friend, Holly. Third, we would line up and practice swimming from one edge of the pool to the other, with Katie’s encouragement helping us swim along. However, today was different. We didn’t execute our normal routine because Katie said she had a special lesson in mind for us today.

“Today, we are going to learn to jump off the diving board!” she squealed excitedly.

WHAT?! I thought to myself, OH NO! THIS CAN’T BE HAPPENING! WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR SCHEDULE? I CAN’T JUMP OFF THE DIVING BOARD TODAY! I glanced over at the diving board located at the other end of the pool…the deep end! I had always been far too terrified to swim in the deep end. After all, I was only five years old! We got out of the pool and formed a line behind the royal blue monster board. I was last in line. Another instructor, Colleen, was waiting in the water below. As explained, Katie would help encourage us to jump and Colleen would catch us in the water. I didn’t understand why nobody was complaining. Some girls needed a few words of advice but one by one, they all took a deep breath and eventually jumped in; all except for me. How is it so easy for everyone else to jump off the diving board, I thought to myself, while it’s so terrifying for me? It soon was my turn. I stepped onto the board and walked cautiously to the end, my arms stretched out to my sides as if I were walking tiptoe on a balance beam. It was then that I made a huge mistake: I looked down. Below me, the water seemed so far away, a goal I could not reach. All the blood rushed into my head as I felt this surge of fear that I had never experienced before. I heard Katie reassuring me, yet my feet would not leave the board. I turned around and stared at her, realizing that we would not leave until I jumped, but at the same time believing that jumping off this diving board was an impossible task. Soon, I heard other voices cheering me on. I looked along the edge of the pool to notice my classmates smiling up at me, supporting me as I struggled to conquer my fear. I clenched my hands into fists, closed my eyes, and thought to myself, Okay, Alyssa, you can do this! Just think of how happy you will be when you land in the water. Don’t be afraid. I inhaled deeply, allowing the clean summer air to fill my lungs with warm determination. My muscles were tight with anticipation as I crouched at the edge of the diving board. Then, without thinking twice, I closed my eyes, reached my tiny hands to the sky, and jumped.

Within a second I felt a cool splash as I plunged into the water below, my arms wrapped around Colleen’s neck as she laughed playfully. Just then it hit me: I DID IT! I realized with satisfaction that I had conquered one of my greatest fears, and a glowing smile spread across my face. Holly gave me a thumbs up and my classmates cheered for me as I waved to Katie who was standing on the pool deck above me, clapping and giggling, saying, “See? I knew you could do it!” And she did.

While leaping off the diving board into the deep end of the pool might not have been a big accomplishment for my classmates, it was a huge achievement for me. By jumping off the diving board that day, I gained confidence in myself as well as the confidence to take risks. I learned that sometimes risks need to be taken in order to overcome obstacles, as the risks we take help us to become more confident and more experienced individuals. Why sit on the ledge of the pool when you can jump right in and play? That’s how I view life now. Instead of avoiding something because it’s intimidating or new, I now dive right in because I know I’ll regret it if I don’t. Jumping off the diving board also helped me realize that breaking from my normal routines can prove beneficial. By doing something unexpected, I gained the knowledge of experiencing something new, a goal I wouldn’t have tried if Katie hadn’t decided to break our routine that day. And last, I learned to trust the encouragement of my friends. Knowing that they supported me and believed in me helped me accomplish something I originally thought was impossible.

I am now no longer afraid of the diving board or the deep end. In fact, that section of the pool is where I eventually began spending all of my time. While taking a risk may seem scary at first, in the end, risks can be worth it, just as the diving board experience was for me. So do not waste life sitting dry on the edge of the pool. Instead, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and dive in.

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This article has 1 comment.

susieq said...
on Jan. 28 2009 at 12:53 am
An article that everyone can relate to.Everyone has that diving board moment in their lives and often many of them. It is a good way to live your life, don't sit on the edge, jump right in! Good job

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