Cannonballs: An Indulgence of Summer

Summer means one thing and one thing only, as far as I’m concerned – cannonballs.

Sometimes can openers, too, and maybe the occasional flying dutchman, but mostly cannonballs – from the diving board, the side of the pool or even the high dive.  Plunging into the water with legs gripped tight, creating a monumental splash that empties the pool and soaks everybody on deck – nothing makes summer more enjoyable.

The cannonball is an indulgence, sure – but everybody loves them, especially those sunbathers.  “Thanks for cooling us off!” they’ll say, as they leap up and squeal with delight.  They may follow that with some choice words about my personal hygiene, but that’s all part of their fervent expression of gratitude.  Who doesn’t love to get wet on a hot summer day?

The only problem is that cannonballs work best in a deep pool, and most suburban pools nowadays go, at most, to a mere 5-feet deep. The water displacement created by a 5-foot-deep pool, though, is woefully inadequate.  Nothing makes a cannonball less satisfying than an inability to sink deep into the water.

Why are most of the pools in Ashburn only 5-feet deep?

According to the lifeguard at one Ashburn pool, who wouldn’t give his name, the answer is safety.  Pools with deep ends create a higher risk of drowning.  “If the water is only 5 feet,” he said, “an adult can stand up.”

“An adult can take care of themselves,” I pointed out.  “Hopefully they won’t cannonball into the deep end if they can’t swim.”

He retorted that “some adults are just idiots,” which I really can’t argue with, but why are we creating idiot-safe pools?  Pools should be safe for children, and children who can’t swim will drown in 5 feet of water just as easily as in 8 feet of water.  Additionally, I pointed out just to be difficult, is that a lifeguard diving off a high life guard seat is much more likely to hit his head in 5 feet of water than in 8 feet, doubling the number of drowning cases on that particular horrible day at the pool, in theory.

A more obvious explanation is that 8-foot deep pools are really only created for the sake of diving, and diving boards create injuries – it doesn’t take any fancy statistical analysis to figure that out.  Diving boards, though, are also great for cannonballs, and will allow a nice running start – critical to an effective cannonball.

In a private pool, I’ll typically begin my cannonball somewhere down the street.  I’ll launch into a full sprint, run up the driveway, and project myself as far as humanly possible, while spreading my knees and elbows in such a way as to maximize my surface area for the largest possible splash.  At the local public pool, I’ll usually start several steps back and begin my run, only to be whistled down by the lifeguard.  A feeble jump from the very edge will then have to suffice – and the only person getting wet is me.

What’s the fun in that?


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