Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Where have all the diving boards gone?

The other day, Beth and I were sitting by the pool at her new bachelorette pad when she commented that she was surprised that the deep end was six feet. She has noticed that pools aren’t that deep anymore. It’s true! What the hell? Where have all the diving boards gone?

We visit an Olympic sized pool that has a real deep end, 12 feet. It even has diving boards, but they are always, always off limits, tilted at odd angles like uprooted trees, taunting the swimmers with their promise of supreme bounce maneuvers. My boy took diving lessons there for a week last summer, but my girl was too young then and this year they did not offer any.

Pools used to have diving boards! Diving boards are so fun, where have they gone?

Shorehaven still has a diving pool, it even has a 3 meter high dive that is deliciously, terrifyingly tempting. But my kids are not allowed up there until they are 11. Thanks a lot, Aunt Julie. It also has a low dive, and a regular one. Here are some kids on those boards.

Hey, I know those kids!

It seems like many of the really fun risks of childhood are going away. At my kids’ old school, I used to let them climb a tree outside of the gate, and I was always surprised to be the only one standing out there waving up at the branches. The kids were only allowed to wear sneakers to this school, (which was perfectly lovely in many other ways) even though they were Not. Allowed. To. Run. I’m serious.

I’m as safety conscious as the next mom – probably even more so – we are all about helmets and my kids can’t even imagine piling into the wayback of a country squire where the only thing buckled was your sandals, maybe. But I think kids need to have sanctioned places where they can court danger, or they’re just going to do it somewhere we can’t see.

I’ve only been to the emergency room of Children’s Hospital twice. The first time was horrific – she was fine, but my girl went down the slide of her little playhouse wearing nothing but a diaper and holding a tent pole… in her mouth. Yes, exactly what you imagine. No puncture – just a perfect, angry round bruise on the roof of her mouth and soft foods for a week.

I went on a safety tear after that accident, battened down the hatches and threw out everything that could hurt my little cubs. Two weeks later, my boy went to a friend's birthday party and broke his leg on some air. An inflatable bounce house, and no – nobody landed on him. Just the air. Six weeks in a cast from toe to hip. He was five.

This weekend, Autumn and I had dinner on the deck of a rooftop beach restaurant, and the kids finished first (shocking). My boy stood next to me gazing out at the ocean, and specifically at the seawall. He dreamily said: “I want to jump off of something so bad.”

Kids want to jump, and they will. If they had a diving board, they wouldn’t flip from the side of the pool! Now THAT scares me. I always wonder for a second if the splash I feel is chlorinated water or grey matter.

So is the problem that pools aren’t deep enough anymore for diving boards, or that diving boards are too dangerous so why bother with such a deep end? I would prefer the former, that pools are kept shallow to conserve water or something. Or maybe it's a California thing, we can't have such deep ends becuase it will put too much pressure on the tectonic plates and the resulting earthquake will send the lot of us careening out to sea. Do you still have diving boards in your backyard pools?

Wait, you have a backyard pool?

Can we come over?


SJ said...

Diving boards are really frightening, it's true. But their scary factor increases by a thousand-fold when you become a parent. The root of all evil is still the trampoline. Evil, evil bastard trampoline.

Ellie came by and commented on my blog. I loved that. I also love any blog started when blind drunk. Rock on, ladies.

Anonymous said...

I recall taking swim lessons when I was in 3rd grade. Once we could keep our heads above water they marched us out to the diving boards and off we went. But, I'm talking the 1960's, so guess as they say "times have changed". Actually it's an insurance liability most pools don't want to take on. Sad but true.

Anonymous said...

Jacquie! This is so great! You're good, my little feathered friend.

I have three comments:

1. I love the photo of BOTH your kids going off the diving boards -- in mid-air! -- at the same time.

2. Remember when your boy broke his leg -- which seemed impossible, having hit it on air -- we didn't go to the ER until the next morning because we -- okay *I* -- didn't want to miss the UConn basketball game?

3. When Jane's boy found out kids couldn't go on the high-dive until they're 11, he called them -- them: the evil powers that be -- traitors and liars.

Rita said...

Yeah, where have all the POOLS gone. The only pools around here are the private backyard variety (with no diving boards, of course, because they aren't deep) or the indoor pools at the gyms (with no diving boards, but really wild water slides).

We had a pool in my elementary school/junior high with a regulation low-dive and high--dive and I loved it. Now, the kids just get pool time a few times a year and it's sad.

Anonymous said...

Okay, the grey matter comment made me gag. I was pictuing little Merrell with her head split open. Eek.

I'm a fan of both the diving board and the trampoline, and the bounce house for that matter. (Yes, they can be dangerous, but really, aren't highways much more dangerous, and don't we [okay, not you, Ellie] drive on them all the time?)

Viva courting danger!

NucMEd is Hot said...

I live in alittle twon and when they rebuilt the old town pool and turned it inot a giant water park, they had the good sense to not only put in a diving board, but a high dive too!

Watching the five year old jump from ten feet is pretty funny!

Anonymous said...

Why wasn't Patty McSally identified in the diving photo??? We love diving boards, trampolines, skis, pogo sticks (go Bill), rollerblades and skate boards.... and helmets for most. Though Dr. Flynn the Younger did scold us a bit for a few of those.
Love the blog, Tami

nicole antoinette said...

I don't think I've even *seen* a diving board since I was about 3. And I didn't even realize it until this post. Now all I want to do is dive. Go figure.

Leslie said...

They started taking out high dives around here several years ago. I miss the high dive. Your post was right on.

mumple said...

LOL. Diving boards bring back memories...of my dad jumping off the high dive after a full day of 5 children begging him to do it.

Hitting the water knocked his false teeth out, and he would never do it again, no matter how much we begged. *sigh*

Diving boards are dangerous.

Chic Shopper Chick said...

We don't have a pool but I'd love to put one in someday. When we do, I may have it all one depth because I think most of the time that we spend in the pool (for us) is social, and we stick to the shallow end. I read somewhere that 80 percent of time spent in pools is in the shallow end, so maybe people have started feeling like there was not point.

And I think the diving boards have slowly been eliminated because of the liability, not the actual safety of them, if I had to guess. It's a real shame too, because, like your son, I always just wanted to jump off of something! Real bad.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if you can help me. I am looking for a location in Cape Town that had diving board facilities. Something private not run by the counsil... can anyone help me?