MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII --
Marine Corps Community Services is offering springboard diving lessons for children ages 7 through 13 who love to be in the water and are looking to advance beyond standard swim lessons at the base pool.
The class is taught by teachers and coaches from USA Diving.
The class teaches the children fundamentals of diving and occasionally competes outside the base. The group has even competed at the University
“I teach them fundamentals so that they are safe in using the boards for recreational purposes, they understand equipment and know how to use it properly,” said Leve Watson, teaching coach with USA Diving and instructor for the class. “I keep this in mind with our military kids: They are going to be here for a short period but we’ve got enough time to teach them some basic fundamentals, basic dives.”
Beyond the physical parts of diving, the sport teaches children discipline, facing their fears and patience.
There is a moment of hesitation or fear just before leaving the diving board. Watson said diving is a risk-taking sport, but teaches the children to control emotions and learn independence.
“They do experience emotions,” Watson said. “‘I don’t want to do this, I’m really scared’ is an example of emotion. What we do is look at that as a learning moment for emotional intelligence. We take that moment, recognize it, talk about it and manage it.
“We always enforce, if there’s a moment that challenges your emotions, say it,” he added. “I want them to recognize what they feel and I want them to work and manage it.”
When mastering emotion and paying attention to details, Watson said the children will learn independence and confidence on the board as well daily life.
“The springboard diving program is actually for independent living skills at those ages,” Watson added. “We want them to be independent and self-reliant. They learn mental skills, they pay attention to the details and the order of the details.”
Bailey Gegg, a 7-year-old who has been attending the class for nearly a year, learned of the sport when she was unable to enter the full swim class on base. Her mother, Libby Gegg, said the first time Bailey dove off of the board, she knew it was the right sport for her daughter.
“The first time she dove in, she had a big smile,” Libby said. “She loves being in the water. She is definitely driven and fearless. She was drawn to this sport.”
Watson credits his passion for the sport to his ex-wife, who was an Olympic diver in 1968.
“The first time I saw her, I liked her and the way the divers would carry themselves,” he said. “I saw it in action, the emotional intelligence, the discipline and the order of doing things. I saw success in it. I saw living the moment, in the now. Diving is in the now. You don’t stop it, once you go, there’s no stopping it. That’s the rush, and kids run to it.”
When learning the sport, Watson takes safety seriously. He has students work on their technique at the edge of the pool before using the boards.
“With coach; safety is paramount,” Libby said. “He takes the kids aside to work separately if he sees a potentially dangerous situation. It makes me feel better.”
Watson works to show his sudents a sport which takes a large amount of mental strength and discipline.
“Springboard diving is a risk-taking sport,” Watson said. “If they are going to do risk taking, they need to pay attention to details. In the end they are self-reliant. They have to take the lead but they are given fundamentals, emotional intelligence so they understand.”
To register a child for the class, a student must sign up at http://usadiving.org as a limited athlete. Classes are $50 a month and held Wednesdays and Fridays. For more information, call 754-4602.