Fifteen years ago I was finishing the third year of my B.Sc. degree in Marine Biology by taking a course on oceanic invertebrates at the Bamfield Marine Station on Vancouver Island.
The station has a large dock, at which the heritage steamship Lady Rose moors when bringing passengers and mail to Bamfield every other day. The dock surface is a good five or six metres above the water, depending on the tide, and one hot day in summer 1989 a bunch of us students decided to jump off it to go swimming.
Most of us did as you would expect, leaping off with arms and legs flailing, landing with a messy, loud, slightly painful splash, then spluttering in the water as we swam out of the way of those who followed us. But one student used to be a competitive diver. While I forget her name, I remember distinctly how she looked as she jumped. She took off, then scissored her stocky body, sheathed in a featureless black bathing suit, so that she touched her toes in the air before descending, arrow-straight and head-first, with a quiet ploop as the water swallowed her up. She surfaced a few seconds later, with hardly a bubble trail behind her.
I've never achieved anything that physically elegant with my body. Sure, I can play the drums, and while it is a physical skill, it's not much to watch. I admire those who can move both efficiently and beautifully like that.