Diving In: Senior, freshman find success with creation of diving team

It’s 6:30 AM, 34º outside, and the sun still hasn’t broke the horizon yet, but divers are already in the pool working to perfect their craft. Since diving is a part of the swimming overall competition, teams who don’t have any divers do not earn points toward the team competition. Swim coach Glen Williams saw this as a problem the team could rectify and has started developing divers on the team.

“We have a diving board [at the pool], so we could do it,” Williams said. “We’re lucky to have an assistant coach that has a background in tumbling that was able to take over as the diving coach and help the divers develop.”

Since diving is new this year, freshmen and seniors alike have started at the same skill level, opening the event up to leaders of all ages.

“Diving is new for everybody this year, so they’re all freshman in terms of the diving,” Williams said. “That’s what’s neat and exciting because it was new this year and everyone has been learning. The freshman took to it like the seniors, so there was nobody ahead of anybody else.”
With everyone starting on equal footing, no one came in better than anyone else and there’s a sense of camaraderie instead of competitiveness.

“With the diving team and all team members being new to diving we have a very unique team dynamic,” diving coach Atosha Rampy said. “On the board, freshman or senior, it doesn’t matter, and everyone is new so it is an even playing field.”
Each diver had their own reasons for joining the team, whether it was to try something new or because they have been inspired by others within the sport.

“I’ve always watched diving on the Olympics and thought it was really cool,” freshman Ayden Ayers said. “Seeing that we had a high school dive team, I wanted to join it because I had never done something like that. I thought it would be cool to break away from the norm of just doing the same thing in swimming everyday.”

Ayden acknowledges that one of the most difficult parts of diving is committing to the dive both mentally and physically.

“My favorite dive is the inward dive,” Ayden said. “The dive requires you to jump off the board backwards and dive towards the board and that’s really difficult to commit to at first, but once you get it, it’s the best feeling dive.”

Ayden has also started exhibiting leadership qualities as he improves as a diver, even as a freshman.

“Ayden’s a good teammate,” senior Luke Jones said. “He hasn’t been in many leadership situations yet just because he’s a freshman. He’s definitely going to be a better leader on the team as he continues to develop.”

The feeling is mutual between the two divers as Ayden looks to Luke as a leader as well.

“Luke is the captain and he’s senior, so he’s a really good leader,” Ayden said. “I think part of it is seniority. He’s older than everyone else and he can boss us around, but he’s also a respectful guy and he’s a really good leader overall.”

Luke has set an example for his teammates by making it to the regional meet after only a few months of learning and diving.

“It felt pretty good to make it to the regional meet,” Luke said. “I didn’t expect to make it that far because I’ve only been diving for five months. I’ve never made it to regionals for an individual event before, it’s all been relays in swimming so it was nice to make it individually.”

Luke took starting with the basics as a senior in stride and worked throughout the year to perfect his dives.

“Prior to this year Luke had only been on the board a handful of times,” Rampy said. “We started with the basics and added on from there. It is has been really fun to see them step out of their comfort zone of swimming and try something new.”

Luke’s tenacity and unwillingness to back down from a challenge inspired Ayden to join the team.

“It’s his last year, so I think that it’s cool that he could start something, knowing the he has to end it this year,” Ayden said. “I thought was cool that he was so willing to start it, and that kind of encouraged me to start diving.”

Along with his teammates, Luke’s coaches admire determination and dedication.

“Luke impressed me with his poise, determination and confidence throughout the season,” Rampy said.
“It is not easy to be a first year diver and to learn enough advanced dives to even be eligible to compete. To be able to be consistent and confident enough to compete with the best in the state and country is a huge accomplishment.”

Even though Luke’s high school career as a diver is over, he will carry the lessons he’s learned and the friendships he has developed with him into the future.

“Diving is fun, and I really love it, but the people are the best,” Luke said. “Without my teammates, and even people I met that weren’t on my team at meets, diving wouldn’t be what it is now.”