Kyle Van Gelder stands at the back of the diving board, pausing slightly before taking his approach. He skips right before the end of the board and jumps up just as the board starts to spring back.
As soon as his feet leave the board, he starts to tuck into a ball as he flips forward for two full rotations before opening his body back up and landing in the water in almost a perfect pencil.
The stunned looked on faces of little kids and parents covered the room, but to Van Gelder, it is just another day at free swim.
Like Van Gelder, Castleton students and residents come to free swim at the Castleton State College poolto relax and do what they want in the waterfor an hour to two.
But is there a peaceful coexistence between the two groups? According to lifeguard Megan O’Brian, there is harmony between students and residents.
O’Brian, who has been a lifeguard at the Castleton pool for three years, said the residents and students get along just fine in the pool.
“The community members get a kick out of watching the students jump off the diving board, it is almost like a show for them,” O’Brian said.
Castleton resident Cathryn Sternfels, who just started using the Castleton pool this past summer, raved about how polite the students are that attend the pool.
“When I was at the pool one day, and I saw all the kids going off and doing their tricks off the diving board, and I just thought I have to take a jump myself,” Sternfels said.
She went up to the board and took her first jump in a long time. When she resurfaced, it was to the students’ clapping for her. She said she felt great after seeing how they reacted.
“They even hold the door for me and say hello first, they are very sweet,” Sternfels said, with a big grin.
According to O’Brian, the pool attracts a variety of students from freshman to seniors. She said half of the students who use the pool like to use the diving board while the other half like to just use the shallow end to relax or play games with each other.
“I feel like free swim is relaxing because you get to just float around, you really don’t need to think about anything, and the mind gets time to wander,” said Nathan Dunn, a senior who just started using the pool last year. His friends first convinced him to come one day last fall, and he has been coming back ever since.
Sternfels said she loves floating around in the pool for 45 minutes and constantly moving the whole time for a workout.
Like Dunn, Van Gelder said hecomes to free swim to relax, but he also sees the time as a chance to practice for the upcoming snowboard season.
“I like to try and progress my tricks as far as I can, and the practice in the pool keeps my mind focused on the upcoming winter, because I really want to land a backflip this year, and possibly more,” Van Gelder said.