Published: Aug 11, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Aug 11, 2012 04:16 PM
Every time I see one of the commercials featuring Olympic athletes and their mothers, I think of Ana McCrory, the mother of our newest homegrown Olympic diver, Nick McCrory.
I wonder if the fragrance of chlorine is imbedded in nearly every special mama moment she remembers. I also wonder how many heavy pool-soaked towels she has washed in her 20 years as a mom.
When my daughter was 3 years old, she discovered the divers at the community pool. I adjusted to my blue-tinted surroundings as I sat with the other parents on the benches closest to the diving boards. My daughter and Nick were both pre-teens and anchored the average of the age range around the pool that winter. Nicks younger brother, Lucas, was also a beginning diver.
It was Ana McCrory who passed around the sign-up sheets for parent volunteers and took team swimsuit orders. She stopped by to chat frequently as she carried out various responsibilities for Nunzio, the coach. Like my daughter, I was feeling a bit lost in our move to Chapel Hill. Ana and the dive team families helped me to start drawing in the outlines of a new life for myself.
Even then, it was apparent that Nick McCrory wasnt just another kid on the diving board. He was focused, yet friendly, often flashing the grin that we all now recognize from a medal-winning moment. When my daughter and the other kids complained about the cold pool water, Nick shrugged off the discomforts and continued to climb the diving board time after time.
Once I watched as Nick practiced a complicated back dive, his head missing the edge of the 5- meter board by only a heartbeat. I responded with an audible gasp. His mother had also witnessed the near miss. But she took it in without expression and moved on. Never again did I betray my fears aloud for any of the divers, including my own.
I marveled at that composure of Nicks mother, because I knew it hid a deep well of emotion that every mother carries for her children. I saw her solicitous care of her younger son as he climbed shivering out of the pool after practice. Like every mother of a young child there, I saw her lovingly wrap a towel around his shoulders, no doubt wishing she could still do the same for Nick. At that time, her oldest son had been diving for three or four years, no longer needing, or wanting, that sort of attention from his mom.
Twice a week, I sat in the stands for nearly two hours, knowing the McCrorys were there far more often. My daughter meanwhile was turning into a graceful diver, described by Nunzio as possessing nice lines. There was only one hitch. She could not would not master a back flip off the diving board. Several times Nunzio, with Nicks help, rigged up an apparatus with a thick mat by the side of the pool where she could practice the feel of the dive without the board or water.
After a year and a half of lovely flip-less dives, my daughter left the sport behind without a backward glance.
So I think about Ana McCrory when I see the commercials on television. I think about her presence in the stands of another pool in London, knowing that behind her immense pride in her sons accomplishments, she probably still masks her worry for his safety. I wonder if she wishes, at times, that she could wrap a big fluffy beach towel around his now mature shoulders and hold him close. I also wonder if she isnt just a bit relieved that someone else now has the job of washing all those heavy chlorine-soaked towels.
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