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Aug
12
2012

My 10 Meter Dive

Yes, I'm the little man there and, no, don't try this at home.

Tom Schreier will never be an Olympian, but he does do stupid things.

I stood on an abandoned bridge and looked over a small cement wall that stood between my feet and a 30-foot drop into Union Bay.

How many people have done this before? I thought to myself.

***

“We’re going canoezing!” said my friend as we packed to get ready.

“Canoezing?” I asked.

“Think about it. It’s a combination of two words.”

“I got the first one: canoeing!” I said, proud of myself.

“Think of the second part,” he said, a hint of condescension in his voice, “b—, b—, boo—“

“Boozing?”

“Boozing!”

In unison: “Canoezing!”

***

To get to this abandoned on ramp a group of friends and I rented a canoe from the University of Washington, which is located a couple yards southeast of the stadium.

"Admission was a quarter of the price this year!"

As we left the dock we could see a single standing wall that at one time held thousands of pigskin fans. Cranes surround the arena. The Huskies will play in Century Link Field (“The Clink”), home of the Seattle Seahawks, next year while the stadium is being renovated.

Slowly but surely we passed a main channel where tens, if not hundreds, of boats—motorboats, yachts, sail boats and canoes—passed through with relative frequency.

After passing through the channel, we passed under the Foster Island Trail.

South of Foster Island a matrix of roads sat overhead: the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge on the 520, a freeway that runs east-west, and an off ramp that runs north-south. The posted Speed Limit is 50 miles per hour on these roads.

Once we got underneath the freeway, all four of us cracked a Bud Light.

It was a beautiful summer in Washington: 80 and sunny and, after a couple minutes of rowing, nothing tasted better than that Bud and it’s superior drinkability*.

*Feel free to toss a couple bones my way, Anheuser-Busch Brewing Co.

And then, of course, someone ups the ante. One of the members of the boat suggested we jump off of an abandoned on ramp that runs parallel to the 520 off ramp. This stretch of road is an unfinished project. It is not accessible by car and does not lead anywhere.

Floating in the water and sipping on our beers, we looked up at the off ramp.

“How many bodies do you think that is?” one of my friends asked, referring to the height of the bridge above the water, not the presumed count beneath the surface.

“I would guess it is about five or six,” said another.

Well, if I’m 6’2” and the average person is probably around 5’10” then five body lengths is around 30 feet. To put it in perspective, the 10-meter platform at the Olympics is roughly 32.8 feet high. Otherwise think of 10 basketball hoops stacked upon one another.

***

The four of us decide we need one more round of beers (“liquid courage”) before we head into shore and make the trek to the abandoned on ramp. After killing another round of Buds, we paddle into shore and find a group of eight people that are about to leave the landing area that leads to the on ramp.

“Did you guys jump?” we yelled.

The lone maiden. (Ahem. Budweiser.)

“Yeah!” they yelled back.

“Was it fun?”

“Yeah.”

“Want to do it again?”
“No,” they said laughing.

As we approached the shore we saw a lone maiden sitting in a bikini swimsuit. When asked if the group jumped, she said yes and that she had video evidence on her smartphone.

When asked why she was left behind, she said she was hurting too bad to get back into the canoe right away.

“Umm…this probably isn’t anymore reassuring guys,” my friend said upon hearing the news, “but I just watched this Mythbusters episode about this.”

In the episode, a construction falls from a crane 160 feet above water, but allegedly he threw down a hammer to break the surface and fell safely.

The myth was proven false.

As I gulped down another sip of sweet, sweet Bud Light with its superior drinkability*, the carbonation in the drink suddenly made my stomach a little uneasy.

*Really, Budweiser, feel free to slide me a couple bucks. Don’t be shy.

I imagined my fall from the bridge to end with my body hitting the rock hard, unbroken surface of the water, with my torso exploding into a bloody pulp and my limbs flying all over—kind of like a stage fatality in Mortal Kombat.

But we were already at the surface and I was committed (and well lubricated).

The four of us pulled the canoe upon shore and sauntered down a rocky path to the abandoned on ramp. The entrance to the on ramp was incomplete, requiring us to climb onto a dirt mound and leap onto the structure.

The entrance was littered with cans and bottles that once contained alcoholic beverages—most prominently, Rainier, the local brew. Clearly, we weren’t the first people to toss back a cold one before making the leap, but only a few of the drinkers can say they enjoyed superior drinkability* before feeling the rush of leaping off an abandoned on ramp.

*Ahem. Budweiser. Cough. Cough.

Spray painted on the bridge, next to a plethora of graffiti, was a simple message: no trespassing. On the right of the structure was the date of the project: 1963.

Walking up the on ramp, I felt I had become ensconced in a post-apocalyptic atmosphere. The road had various small cracks in it that stemmed from a couple large cracks—like little rivers flowing from a main source of water or branches of a tree growing from the trunk.

To advance to the “jump zone,” where it was safe to enter the water (there were lily pads underneath certain sections, which would probably tangle a body under water), the four of us had to climb over a tree branch that had grown directly over the road, a car barrier and avoid a giant white mound of questionable substance.

Look what we found on the lily pads. (Budweiser. Hint. HInt.)

Upon reaching the jump zone I peered over the edge. Beneath me was a clear patch of water—the lily pads sat well to the left of where I would enter.

My friends and I lined up on the bridge. I was too nervous to stand on the top of the barrier that would have prevented cars from going over, had the project been completed, like one of my friends was.

I felt like I was in that scene from Old School, where Luke Wilson, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell have the pledges line up on top of the balcony of their frat house with bricks and rope tied to their penises.

I was worried I was the guy that dropped the brick into the sewage drain.

It was too late to back out now.

My last thought before I jumped was:

How many people have done this before?

Then, suddenly it didn’t matter. Hundreds, thousands, millions of people could have jumped safely, I was certain I would be an anomaly.

So I did the most logical thing to do in that situation:

I jumped.

***

I felt a rush as I emerged from the water.

As soon as I inhaled post-jump my first breath that Army commercial where the guy leaps into the water rushed through my mind. I felt like Vin Diesel, Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis rolled into one—the ultimate badass.

I wanted to jump again. And again. And again.

Nobody from my group would join me, one of my friends hurt her tailbone and another was feeling pain his arms, so I waited for another group to go and I jumped with them.

Sure, it’s a 30-foot drop. I learned later on in my trip that people leap from significantly larger heights, I heard claims of 200 feet (“if you know what you’re doing”), but it didn’t change my experience.

It was euphoric. I felt like former Minnesota Twins pitcher Frank Viola’s* daughter Brittany leaping in the Olympics.

*You knew I was going to make a Minnesota reference. Frank Viola Field is located in my hometown of Shoreview, Minn.

After my second jump I had an epiphany.

There’s no way these divers do this for the money, sponsorships for divers only last so long, or for the fame, that is fleeting as well.

They must do it because they love that rush.

Tom Schreier writes for TheFanManifesto. He can followed on Twitter at @tschreier3. Email him at tschreier3@gmail.com.

The entire FanMan team can be followed on Twitter at @TheFanManifesto, or liked on Facebook by clicking here.

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