Diving duo competes together as one unit

Diving duo competes together as one unit

Mike Presberg

Jumping into the deep end: Flipping in mid-air, junior Drew Rodgers dives off the one-meter springboard into the Mizzou Aquatic Center pool at practice
For the first month of the 2011 season, junior Blake Ward was the only member of the RBHS diving team. Ward, also a swimmer, was so eager to find a teammate that he asked nearly every member of the swim team to try diving, too.
“Whenever I had a conversation with another swimmer I would tell them how they should do diving,” Ward said. “But they said no.”
That is, until he asked fellow junior Drew Rodgers. Ward approached Rodgers at swim practice in early September and convinced him to give diving a try.
“I never dived before so I gave it a shot,” Rodgers said. “I left swim practice early and went to diving practice and it was really fun. really liked it.”
He liked it so much, in fact, he decided to become the team’s second member. However, since joining the team, it hasn’t been all fun and games for Rodgers. He says starting from scratch can be frustrating.
“Being the new diver has been really difficult,” Rodgers said. “Since I’m the new kid, I don’t really know anything about diving, so it’s kind of hard when Blake is doing all these tricks, and I’m still at the basics.”
Ward appreciates Rodgers’ daring spirit and is grateful to have a teammate.
“It was awesome that he was adventurous enough to try it,” Ward said. “The team has gotten a lot more fun since Drew arrived. It’s always fun at practice . I look forward to it every day.”
Despite their positive spirit, the Bruins still have only two members. But their attitude toward the size of the team is decidedly optimistic. Ward believes the small roster makes the experience more enjoyable.
“It’s just Drew, Coach and I, and that’s always fun. We get to see each other every day,” he said. “A means we get more attention from the coach and more dives off the board.”
Coach Lara Christie is in her first year coaching the diving team. She also focuses on the positive side concerning the size of the team.
“Because the swim coaches and I are all new this year, we are growing the program as much as we can,” Christie said
“We all knew the team would be small this year … We try to work hard learning new dives and have some fun, too.”
But Ward and Rodgers admit having a smaller team has its disadvantages when it comes to competition.
Every diver on a given team must perform two to three dives from five separate categories. A group of judges grades each dive and gives it a score. Therefore, the fewer divers a team has, the fewer opportunities for a high score.
“There are only two of us so we have less of a chance to score points for our team,” Ward said. “The other teams have about two to five divers.”
Rodgers’ and Ward’s first diving meet together was the Cape Girardeau Invitational in early October. Each diver in the competition had to perform at least eight dives. After the first eight dives were complete, divers either moved on to the second round or the judges eliminated them based on their total score. Neither Rodgers nor Ward passed this first cut.
But Ward and Rodgers remain positive despite their initial disappointment in early elimination.
“I failed my front flip double twist, my hardest dive,” Ward said. But in the end “it’s not about winning. It’s about competing and trying your hardest.”
Rodgers summarizes the team’s attitude toward adversity well. He says that although there are multiple difficulties, the experience of a dive well done keeps him fully invested in the sport.
“When you smack the water you have to get back up and do it again and again until you look like you have sunburns all over,” Rodgers said. “But when you finally do the dive, you feel like you can do anything.”
By Mike Presberg