much more pronounced when the divers mount the 10-meter platform. Boggs slaps
specks of grit from the soles of his feet. Rick McAlister, the 1973 NCAA
champion, perhaps the only male collegiate champion in any sport ever to be
coached by a woman, dries his hands twice before a 3� somersault. These seem
sensible reactions to the increased possibility of injury when falling from 33
feet, but King, in an aside, says they are more often signs of concentration
than fear. "I've been teased about my twitching and how I squirm and hitch
my suit," she says, "but it's just that you can recognize when you're
ready, so you wait. You've got a dive in your muscles, the program for it in
your nerves, and somehow there is a moment you know it's going to
Diving from the
tower means a punishing impact. "Be tight," calls King. "If you're
limp, that water will tear you apart. I want you rigid, like the shaft of an
arrow." McAlister, the heaviest of the divers at 185 pounds, does a reverse
2�, holds his form all the way and lands on his back. As he surfaces, a towel
thrown from the tower floats over his head. Jaw set, unused to errors, he
climbs back up and dives again, opens too late and lands on his stomach. King
holds her middle and rocks for him. "You'd better go on to the next while
you're able," she says.
"The only thing left to do is hit the tower."
Rich Leopold, a
junior, performs his first-ever reverse 2� from 10 meters. "The first one
of anything is petrifying from up there," whispers King. She is Hushed with
her diver's success, reliving the anxiety and relief. "After 18 years of
this, I wasn't afraid of landing wrong or getting the wind knocked out of me.
The scary thing in learning a new dive is never having felt the kinesthetic
sensations of those particular movements. I pioneered some dives and before I
tried each one I thought, 'There has got to be some reason why no one has ever
done this before.' The real fear is of that blankness, of the unknown."
Like a good
performer in any discipline, King loves to see a resolve in her divers, a
wholehearted trying without the influence of irrelevancies such as caution, yet
she says, "It's not human nature for a diver to will himself to new dives.
You need someone you have confidence in to push you, to know when you're ready
to do things you've never done before."
King. Asked if it is psychologically wearing to constantly banish thoughts of
error and injury, he shakes his head. "A confidence comes from the diving
itself," he says. "You get used to living on after a
His words trail
off as he watches Bourland inch to the edge of the 10-meter platform, assume
the starting position for a reverse dive in the pike position, then pause and
like the springboard," comes King's amplified voice. "The same
mechanics once you're in the air. You've felt this dive."
to the edge and stands, toes out in space, waiting.
imagine it standing there, but in the air your body will know what to do,"