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Cannonball

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On this week’s Keepin it Real, Cam Marston shares a time when his brilliant idea and quick planning led to the best cannonball he’s ever done.

Several years ago, I arrived at the neighborhood pool early one morning to swim laps. It was a habit I had gotten into that summer and the week before, my buddy, Josh, and I had talked about our workouts – how we warm up, how we keep track of laps. Stuff like that. I was going to try some of his ideas and it was early that day, but someone was already in the pool, putting in their work – head down, strong kicks, big flip turns.

I put my towel in a chair, put my googles and my pennies, which I use to count sets in a neat little pile at the end of an open lane at the edge of the pool. I started stretching and took a look at the other swimmer. It was Josh. He has an unmistakable balding pattern that was clearly visible in the water, as he headed down his lane towards me. “Oh,” I thought, “this is going to fun.”

When Josh made his flip turn, I had backed away so he wouldn’t see me. I kept stretching, and by the time he was headed back towards me and got close to the end of the pool, I took four or five running steps, and I launched and tucked into the tightest cannonball an unlimber, middle-aged man could tuck in to. My launch was high, my angle was perfect, my timing was perfect, and I rolled slightly backwards to hit the water on the small of my back to make the biggest explosion possible right next to him. I saw a hole in the water form around me. I saw the water rise up on either side of me and then cave in back down on top of me, and I felt that wonderful concussion one feels when the water slams down on you after executing a flawless cannonball.

It must have thrown Josh ten feet in the air. I imagined him air born, mid-stroke, staring wild-eyed through his goggles wondering what in the world had just happened. “Who did this?” I heard big drops of water still hitting the surface, and as I came up and I was gasping for air because I was already laughing.

Most events in my world take careful and deliberate planning, but every now and then, I have a quick and brilliant idea, and I throw together a quick and brilliant plan that works flawlessly, and I surprise myself at how well I’ve done. I tell myself that I’m smarter than I give myself credit for. Usually when I rush things, things go wrong.

Josh stood up, looked at me with his mouth wide open, ripped his googles off, and…it wasn’t Josh. It was someone I had never met before, someone I didn’t know.

I just stood there. I didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t form a word, and I finally just muttered “Oh, Sorry,” and swam away as fast as I could and didn’t stop swimming until he had finished his workout, left the pool, and I had seen him drive away. It was awful.

My quick planning did it to me again.

I'm Cam Marston, and I'm just trying to Keep It Real.

Cam Marston is the Keepin' It Real host for Alabama Public Radio.