If I don't put this post here, then the web will have no record of what I was up to back in the late 70s. That might not be such a bad thing, but you know one day I'll be an old man and won't remember much of what I remember now.
Our coach and fearless leader was Jim Wood. Jim was a great coach, dedicated, disciplined and wise. He had a soft side that he did not show during practice. During practice he was a hardass. After practice he would smile. Almost a different person. Jim was tall and craggy. He seemed a combination of Texan and Minnesotan. He had a sonorous but sharp voice and he sounded a little bit like Karl Malden.
We practiced Wednesday nights at the new Santa Monica High School pool. It was a great facility. They had good boards and sprays. It was a long way for me to come by bus, but that's what I did. My brother Bryan and I.
Carl was our best diver. He was a great twister. I remember him working on his triple twisting forward 1 1/2. He also had a single twisting 2 1/2. Like all the best divers, Carl was fearless. Like all the mediocre divers, I hated double pikes and shied away from the 3 meter board. But I still did them. My best diving friend was Chris Monaghan from Culver City. I couldn't really understand him much at all. He was a good diver but had no force of personality. But he was a good kid. The captain of the Loyola diving team was Chris Horne. Much more personality, as in total geek. Chris lived in Palms, was a pale redhead with nerd glasses and zits and had a cool and quirky family. In some ways he was a role model, in other ways not. He had a kind of lazy style as a diver, not quite snappy but elegant. I seem to recall that he had good entries but not very good tops. Still, he was way better than I was. The team sweetheart was Colleen MacNamee who lived over near the Santa Monica Airport. Her dad built her a diving pool in the backyard. She had every reason to be spoiled, but I can't remember if she was or not. I do rememeber she used to talk about how thoroughly green the chlorine turned her blonde hair.
The Samod is a small fish I had not heard about before nor since, but that was what Jim named our club. We would participate in meets all over Southern California. Northridge Aquatics was a standard venue. There was another small pool with good boards over near the Budweiser Brewery in the Valley. Also the Jim Kramer Club in PV held meets. The first time I ever peeled was after a day at Madera, CA in the desert. Freaked me out that I got sunburned. They warned me, but I didn't think it was possible. Then I realized how many times I actually had been sunburned, the feeling was extreme that time, but familiar.
My two best meets were the USA - Mexico dual meet at Santa Monica College, and the Chula Vista Invitational. In that meet I got my highest score ever, a 6 1/2 on a forward 1 1/2 pike. Sadly, Jim couldn't make that meet. I got third place - my favorite trophy. I got third at the dual meet too and received a medal. Good times.
I never hit the diving board but I did maybe one or two fail dives. I don't think I ever balked. I was a mediocre diver. I wasn't strong enough to be very good and of course I wore glasses. But I enjoyed the sport and did well enough to qualify for State championships. I used to think of myself as ranked 22nd in the State of California which, considering our champions, wasn't bad at all, but I certainly wasn't good enough to compete at the collegiate level. Chris Horne made the team at USC, I think but I recall that he quit after freshman year.
33828662 was my AAU number. I did have an 11 dive list which was pretty decent considering that most kids who compete in High School have been diving for a while. Oddly, I never really wanted to be a diver, but a gymnast. Loyola didn't have a gymnastics team, nor a wrestling team the two things I could do well given my size. So I made lemonade. I never quite got my forward 2 1/2 pike nor my single twisting 1 1/2. By the time I was junior I fell in love with soccer and the spirit went out of my diving. I couldn't switch sports and keep on track for four year varsity so I toughed it out. But senior year, my intramural soccer team won the school title. It was one of the things I was most proud of in high school. Odd that.