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High Diving

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Until quite recently high diving was considered a very dangerous practice, even by experienced swimmers, and for years the prevailing opinion was that if a persoh fell flat on the water from a height of say 50 feet, he would be killed on strik ing the water. This was forcibly impressed on the writer, who was once prohibited by local au thorities from giving a demonstration of diving off a bridge 40 feet high at a regatta held in Bed fordshire during the Jubilee of 1887, and although old fallacies die hard, it is pleasing to record high diving is now considered one of the most interesting and sporty eveits in a swimming programme. We know from experience that a fall from forty or fifty feet is an unpleas ant experience, although it does not prove fatal, or even serious, provided there are no pro jections in the space one falls through and the water is deep enough to offer the neces sary resistance. A few bruises and a severe shaking up is the only disadvantage. Naturally, when one gets above these heights the question of acceleration becomes one of importance, being more risky and dangerous. The recent impetus to the sport is undoubtedly due to that nation of high divers, the Swedes, some of the most notable being Hagborg, C. P. Mauritzi and Hy. Johansson, the two latter being old friends of the writer. The exploits of these three and their wonderful feats in diving having no equal in the world. Hy. Johansson, being one of the greatest exponents in Great Britain, having won the Swedish diving championship and the world's record, appearing by special request before H. M. the King and Queen at the Bath Club, London. It is interesting to note the feats of our Swedish friends have been successfully emulated by many members of the Toronto Swimming Club, Mr. Norris, their en thusiastic President, being quite an expert in the art, and his example bids fair to bring out some of the best high divers in Canada. The great dread of all beginners is timidity and nervousness when looking down at the water from, say, a height of 20 to 30 feet. Many a stout heart from below has gone up to this height, looked down, and come meekly to earth, to follow the ordinary div ing from lesser heights. I advise novices (and we have all been in this catagory at some time or other) to brace themselves up with a good hurrah when getting to the top of these elevations, tak ing just sufficient time to gauge the distance for the dive and angle, but not waiting too long, as this induces nervousness, which is to be avoided.

When this is once overcome it seems quite natural, and gives an added interest to the sport. There are many interesting and sensational dives, such as the back-front somersault, double-front somer sault, and double-back somersault, and various combination dives, one of these being a "double dive," in which one diver holds his partner upside down, and then, after posing in this position on the edge of a platform, the pair go flying down in their headlong flight through space, entering the water head and feet first in a tight embrace, which is imperative, or the dive may end in serious dis aster. This is one of the most weird experiences in diving, and I strongly advise all swimmers only to attempt it with an expert, even then carrying out hig instructions to the letter. The most grace ful dive, and one that always takes at swimming galas, is the "Swedish swallow," or hollow-backed dive, with the arms extended to their full reach sideways during the flight, being suddenly brought together just before entering the water. The writer has seen and acted as judge at 'many diving competitions, but has never seen anyone to equal the style and perfect grace of C. P. Mauritzi and Hy. Johansson, the Swedish gentle men previously alluded to. Their complete mas tery of the art has given them a world-wide rep utation.

The field of high diving is not without its lady champions. The diving feats of Miss Beatrice Kerr, the lady champion swimmer of Australia, has established some fine records in the annals of high diving, and she may justly be termed the best and most experienced lady diver in the world, be ing closely followed by Miss Annette Kellerman, of Australia, who is one of the neatest trick swim mers in the world. The question of diving takes up quite a field in itself, and although many side issues have been omitted, it will, no doubt, be readily admitted that high diving gives an added interest to the swimming world, and there is no doubt that greater interest will be taken in this branch of the sport than hitherto,. for although it is not essential for swimmers to be high divers, it fosters courage and determination when caught in some extraordinary circumstance calling for prompt action in the assistance of a fellow-being.