Thursday, August 2, 2012

It’s Only 35 mph

“What possesses people to jump off a tower like that?”

Mr. Wonderful, my Olympics-obsessed husband, is amazed by the accomplishments of the athletes who’ve tumbled, swam, shot, rowed and otherwise flashed across our TV screen. He holds a special reverence for the divers.

AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis
 We watched the teams of synchronized platform divers the other night.


It was as if the athletes shared a single nervous system. They approached in tandem, leapt in tandem, spun and twisted in tandem and entered the water together with just as much of a splash as Missouri has seen fall from the skies this summer.

As we gaped in wonder, one of the announcers remarked that the divers strike the water’s surface at 35 mph. Hmmm. That got me thinking.

People sometimes tell me they only use seat belts when they’re on the highway.

You know, because the slow speeds in town can’t really hurt you.

Here’s the thing - if your car is traveling at 35 mph and it strikes another object, everything in the car – groceries, gym bags, people – continues to move at 35 mph for a time…unless it is fastened to the vehicle’s safety cage. The cage crumples as it absorbs the energy of the crash…like the water absorbs the divers’ forward energy.

Would you jump from a 10 meter Olympic platform into an empty pool? It’s only 35 mph.