In 1968, my mother drove my sister and me about 15 miles to swim lessons at the Parkersburg City Park Pool. We knew how to paddle around already, so it was an opportunity to get certified at “Dolphin” level. (No sissy “Tadpole” status for this six year old!) The hardest requirement was diving off the dreaded high dive. I can remember how impossibly tall it looked from the pavement. I would watch kids climb up and up and up, then dive off. One poor plump kid did the biggest belly flop ever, and came up sputtering, brilliant pink all over!
I passed every other requirement, and only had the high dive between me and Dolphin fame. At the appointed time I used all my willpower to force my wobbly legs to climb up the ladder toward a dizzying blue sky, and edged out on the board. The board was slick from water dripping off bathing suits. It wobbled as other kids came up behind me. I crept closer to the edge and peered over. It was something like this: