Taking the Leap

Taking the Leap

Jyoti Campbell ’18
Photo by Richard Howard

Three meters doesn’t seem that high—until you’re perched on the end of a diving board and being told to jump off. Then 3 meters seems very, very high.

“Everything on the 1-meter [board], I love,” says Jyoti Campbell ’18. “When you get up to the 3-meter board, things get a lot scarier.” But that doesn’t deter Campbell or her classmates taking Intro to Diving this spring. Led by instructor and diving coach Jack Lewis, the class is just one of the many courses offered by the Department of Physical Education, Recreation, and Athletics (PERA) that challenge students to try new things, learn new skills, and occasionally, face their fears.

Dominique McKenzie ’17 has used the P.E. requirement at Wellesley to do all of those things—often in one class. When she started at the College, she didn’t know how to swim. So she took the beginning swimming class. And now she’s taking the diving class for a second time. “The idea of it scared me a little, but I didn’t think that should deter me from taking it,” she says. After one semester of the class, however, there was still more to learn. “There were some dives that I couldn’t bring myself to do that other people could,” she says. “I wanted to come back to get those dives down.”

McKenzie isn’t the only student who ended up coming back for a second time: Campbell and Lauren Futami ’18 are also taking the course again this semester to fine-tune what they’ve already learned and to pick up a few new moves as well. “I thought it would be fun to learn more tricks and dives and flips,” Futami says.

Having fun is a key element to the class, according to Lewis. “Their academic schedules are insane,” he says. “So when they come here, I want them to have fun, let loose, and enjoy themselves. I think that builds confidence on its own.” And while some students may initially see the P.E. requirement as just one more thing to fit into their schedule, they may come to realize that it has more of an impact than they thought. “It really transitions from here to class,” Lewis says. “These are life aspects that you can take into the classroom.”

Having fun and building confidence are just two effects of classes like Intro to Diving, however. “It is a stress release,” McKenzie says. “When I come to diving, it’s just diving. I can’t really think about anything else or I mess up.” For Campbell, the physical activity is critical to her schoolwork. “It helps me focus on my academic courses,” she says.

PERA offers classes for those interested in learning new skills in a wide range of activities. Students can choose anything from rock climbing and kung fu to ballet and archery. “I think it’s great that they have that variety so students are never bored,” Lewis says. “They can try something new every semester.” Just in case that 3-meter board seems a little too high.

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