Board Games Divers Have Some Funny Looking Ways of Staying Warm and Getting Dry, but It All Comes Down to Being Ready to Dive

By Mellema, Darryl | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), January 24, 2003 | Go to article overview

Board Games Divers Have Some Funny Looking Ways of Staying Warm and Getting Dry, but It All Comes Down to Being Ready to Dive


Mellema, Darryl, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Darryl Mellema Daily Herald Correspondent

Just what do divers do during all their free time?

Consider for a moment that divers have a lot of free time. They have to wait through the first five events of a swimming and diving meet to get their chance to perform. Then they have to wait while others take their turns on the diving board.

When their chance comes to step onto the board and execute a dive, it is over in a matter of seconds.

Then the waiting begins again.

"You've got to be focused," St. Charles North senior diver Ben Heinrich said. "You've got one chance to do one thing. It's such a short amount of time that you have to do that one thing that you've got to make every movement perfect."

No one denies that there is a physical aspect to diving. Moving from the board to the water in a series of twists, turns, flips and spins is not for everyone.

The game also involves a mental side. After all, you have to do something while waiting yet still be able to execute a solid dive when your time comes.

The key, according to divers present and past, is to develop a routine.

"Most divers are very ritualistic," St. Charles North diving coach Cary Zant said. "They find something that works for them and they stick to it."

Much of that ritual involves staying warm. Chattering teeth are a bad thing to have when contemplating a dive.

"If you get warm, you're comfortable and you can think about what you're doing," North Stars senior Erik Yusko said. "When I'm cold, I'm sitting there freezing, going, 'I'm so cold,' and I'm not thinking about what I'm doing."

Divers use a variety of methods to stay warm, but before you can be warm, you have to be dry. This is why divers use towels and chamois to remove any bit of water from their bodies between dives.

"You dry off so you're not up there on the board freezing," St. Charles North senior diver Dan Serwicz said.

From a practical purpose, dry hands grabbing dry legs ensures a good grip on those dives that require reaching and grabbing. But beyond the physical reality of missing a grab, there is also a mental element involved that necessitates being as dry as possible on the diving board.

"You don't feel right if you're not dry on the board," Heinrich said. "You just don't feel right. You get thoughts that your hands might slip off. It's just how you've got to be."

Being dry is important, but some divers seem to be working to remove all memory of water from their body and possibly take a layer of skin as well.

"When you're up there and you're completely dry, one little drip coming down somewhere can completely throw off your focus because you're thinking about that drip," Zant said. "It gets to the extreme where any little bit of wetness and you can't think. It starts out based on something real, and then it blows up in your head."

Ironically, another way of staying warm involves getting wet again.

"We sit in warm buckets like a sauna," Heinrich said.

The buckets to which Heinrich refers are a pair of large plastic tubs that sit poolside at St. Charles North. These tubs are filled with warm water, which divers slide into during practice or in a meet if there is a long enough wait between dives.

"This pool is very breezy, and the pool water is sometimes cool," Zant said. "Sometimes it's hard to stay warm. When you're shaking, it's hard to stay focused. Boys tend to rely on that a little more than the girls do. Girls tend to enjoy it, but boys tend to need it."

At St. Charles East, which does not have any divers this season, divers used to relax between dives in tubs that were like large plastic garbage cans. Whatever the size or shape, the purpose is the same.

"Brand new, really nice facilities that think about diving when they're being built sometimes put a hot tub in one corner or something like that," Zant said. …

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