The Bomb

Broken Creek in Numurkah, Northern Victoria, was where I learned to swim.  Graduating from the fenced-in concrete-bottomed beginners pool, Dad took me into the deep where the bottom was unfathomable, for a five year old, and promised to look after me, but kept moving further away, forcing me to continue my stroke to just stay afloat. Once that was mastered, the next step was to the high board – a properly constructed ten foot tower that would never be allowed in today’s litigious world. First it was simple jumps and eventually awkward and low-scoring dives. And probably my first bomb – nothing more complex than a honey-pot. However, they were the beginnings of a skill that hasn’t yet deserted me.

 

Wendouree pool. The remembered summers are longer and the days are hotter than the reality of Ballarat. This was the real learning. By observation. Imitation. Peter Hewitt was one of the best. Hewie was the same age as me but much older. Motivated by the challenge of mates and the desire to impress the other species known colloquially as girls, I progressed from honey-pots to bananas (a belly-whacker without the pain) to proper bombs: the sitter, and my specialty – the horsie. I don’t think I called them horsies then, but that’s what I would call them now. In the first iteration they were hold one bent leg around the knee, other leg straight, and lean back. They evolved into the one-foot-tucked-under-the-opposite-thigh and the hands over the face to avoid the water rush up the nostrils – the masculine equivalent of holding your nose. Eventually, the shoulder bomb: the chest-out-arms-and-legs-spread in the mid-air pose was all important. The last second roll-over had to be just right; too late and there was a pathetic semi-dive with the risk of your knee meeting your nose; too early would take the roll too far and the whack-sound would signal the surety of a very sore and red back. Get it right and the boom was thunderous, with the explosion of water up between vee of the rotating legs. From the three-metre board with a run-up and bounce, it was the weapon of choice for the more distant target. Accurate and concentrated, the water jet could drown an unwary victim. Cannot understand why the girls never appreciated the attention.

 

Creswick pool was a man-made water hole of unmeasurable depth. The water was dirty brown and un-chlorinated. No-one had ever touched the bottom. Even from the ten-metre tower. I had ventured up a number of times but the exit had been via the same stairs rather than from the platform. Until the day with the Fitzpatrick boys – Andy and Rod, and Hewie. We didn’t have our bathers but jeans offered more protection anyway. First effort was not so much a bomb as a wave-your arms-around-to-avoid-doing-a-face-plant jump. It got easier. Confidence grew. And the jeans gave the back of the thighs the necessary protection. The first dive came some years later. Still can’t understand why the first time coincided with a significant hangover headache. It certainly didn’t cure it. My dive of choice was the pike; less risk of overcooking it and landing on my back

 

Many years later, 2007 I think. Kids in tow. A family holiday in South Australia. A very hot day at the Nuriootpa council pool. We are there early and I impress the kids (possibly for the last time ever) with my bombs from the bouncy diving board. Standing start because I can’t control the springiness in the run-up. I leave the pool and then get treated to a brilliant spectacle of bombing by some local twenty-something youths. They run and jump and twist and somersault, forwards or backwards, and land their bombs with satisfying noise and splash. A skill I thought had been lost from the youth of today, has gone past me.

About Andrew Fithall

Probably the most rational, level-headed Collingwood supporter in existence. Not a lot of competition mind you.

Comments

  1. AF – I love bombs. Can’t stand pools that have the “No Bombing” sign posted around them. I recall in my early teens spending many hours at the Greensborough Pool doing bombs off the big and small diving boards. The ‘Boro Boys (tough nuts who only swam in cut off jeans, had girl friends with breasts, and who reputedly conducted the odd car theft on the weekends) would do a magnificent bomb off the big board called ‘the rooter’. The rooter required a high and vigorous bounce off the high board followed by very suggestive pelvic thrusts all the way into the water, whereupon a ‘gutser’ was performed.

    I also remember Leanne Yumana at the Greensborough pool……………………………………………

  2. Still prone to throwing the odd horsie off the Portarlington pier. A skill that, while useless, will never desert me.

  3. Pamela Sherpa says:

    The old Shepparton pool used to have a great diving tower.

    I agree Dips -Where and how are kids supposed to learn how to do bombs these days?

    Where I grew up at the pool was actually in the Gunbower creek. Once big enough we could go off the diving board and swim out into the middle of the creek to a small wooden platform and after that we graduated to climbing a big old dead tree and jumped from the top of it . No better summer fun .

  4. Tony Robb says:

    AF. In my formative years I devoted hours to bombing from all maner of towers and boards at the Wagga pool. Upon moving to Albury bridge jumping was the go as I, like so many others, jumped from the Union Bridge accros the Murray with a customary bomb. The art of the Dive Bomb (now lost) was reserved to the 3m board. The whole bomb revolved around the closeness one could get to the side and hence displace as much water on said girls and life gaurds as possible. Now, being a fraction over fighting weight, I’m able to displace several 1000 litres from my backyard pool and the Late Turn can still be used great advantge on the dog and unsuspecting childern. Having wrok at the Canbeera Olypic pool for 10 yeras you can still tell when a kids get a bomb right and when they come a gutsa. The 10m tower soughts out your real efficionardos
    cheers
    TR

  5. Tony Robb says:

    Dips
    We called the rooter a flexie but its the same creature
    TR

  6. Tony – the ‘Boro Boys were very uncouth.

  7. Skip of Skipton says:

    Andrew, I have seen the Creswick set up of which you speak. It was closed (the tower etc) last time I looked. Don’t get me wrong, I hate the sanitised nanny-state as much as the next 40 year old, but I will give ’em that one. You dare-debil you!

  8. Andrew Fithall says:

    I think the banana is the rooter is the flexie. Hewie could have been a ‘Boro boy Dips.

    I never really experienced what you call the old Shepparton pool Pamela. Went there as a too-young onlooker to school swimming carnivals but wasn’t allowed on the tower. Then we moved away.

    The late turn was another weapon trom the board at the Wendouree pool Tony.Over the last few years of drought in Victoria, it has been very bad form and most impolite to do any bombs in friends’ back yard pools. And even though I too am a fraction over fighting weight, I like to pretend it is technique rather than mass which creates the effect.

    Thanks for the compliment Skip. I doubt I would have the courage today.

  9. AF – with all due respect the banana is not the rooter. The banana results in landing on your back, but the rooter you land in the missionary position.

    I’m off the Yarrawonga next week where we take great delight in performing bananas in the pool, especially after a few beers .

  10. Andrew Fithall says:

    Dips you have highlighted the regional naming conventions and their variations. Variations were not just between States, but also between cities and towns and suburbs within the one State. And quite possibly between pools in the one town – I reckon they used different names at the Black Hill pool to what they used at the Eureka pool and at the Wendouree pool.

  11. Rick Kane says:

    Great article AF and a flood of memories come rushing back. Inadvertently, every time I jump in the pool, is a bombie these days what with the weight I’m carrying. We have the Coburg pool (Murray Rd) which, by the by, along with a bunch of other families took on the Moreland Council several years ago and forced them to re-open. It is your classic 50’s style pool with lots of concrete and trees and shade. One pool is kept for diving and therefore bombies. I get in line with my kids and mostly other kids. I get the bounce going and then let fly. I’m not sure what it’s called but from your description and Dips it sounds like its somewhere between a banana and a rooter but I don’t want to mix those together for fear of bringing the whole site down. Anyway I love the feeling coming off the board, suspended in mid-air, fully aware of the power of the body crashing into the water and the wake you leave behind as you hit the surface and plunge deep into the mystical otherworld of water.

    Cheers

  12. Andrew,

    as noted recently I am going to see Roger Waters this Wednesday night.

    I would be able to find some time to stand (alone and unmasked) in front of any amount of Pies supporters to take payback, should they feel up to it.

    Cheers, Phantom.

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