Imagine doing flips from one to three meters (3.2-9.8 ft.) up in the air and having to land in the perfect position to avoid injury. Now, imagine all of the emotions and nerves you would feel the first time you have to take this leap. Competitive diving takes a lot of practice and precision to make sure it is done safely; therefore, it can sometimes make you feel like you are in over your head.
The Albion Swim and Dive team has a total of nine divers, six men and three women. However, there is something unique about this group of athletes; two of them have never competed in diving before.
Katelyn Nolan and Josh Pemberton had no experience diving in high school but have now found themselves among the many MIAA athletes at Albion College. Even though they are new to the diving team, Nolan and Pemberton say they have felt completely accepted since the first day. This support can be seen as members on the team stop and ask them how their practices and meets were going as well the entire being present at their first meet to cheer them on.
As a transfer student, the whole experience of joining something new was scary for Nolan. Initially, her main motivation in diving at the college level was to find something that would keep her active for a few hours every day. As Nolan talked to Coach Taber, she was able to reach her decision based on the assurance that the team would welcome her even though she had never dove before.
Pemberton is a first-year at Albion College this year. Coming from Petoskey High School, there was no diving program that he could compete on. He was on a community swim team throughout high school where he was around the pool a lot. When he first decided to come to Albion, he thought about joining the swim team. However, he was also open to trying something new.
“When I found out Albion had an actual team for diving I was determined to try it,” said Pemberton.
Both Nolan and Pemberton agree that competing in diving is much harder than they imagined.
“It’s one of the most mentally exhausting things that I have ever attempted. The mental part of the sport is much harder than the physical part,” said Nolan.
While this has been a very mentally difficult experience for the novice divers, they both agree that the team has been really supportive. Pemberton said, “The team is like a huge family. We all depend on each other and support everything that is going on.”
Pemberton commented that it is really different in the aspect that it takes much more regulation than he is used to in a sport. “Diving requires having extreme amounts of discipline to make sure everything goes right.”
Full concentration and effort is needed for this sport since losing focus could result in painful smacks on the water or even the diving board.
With practices two times a day, sometimes lasting for two hours each, it is not an easy commitment to make. These practices consist of non-stop bouncing on the diving board or a trampoline set up with harnesses and constant flipping through the air in order to perfect each dive. There is a lot of pain that comes from practice. The first few tries usually result in painful smacking on the water.
The most rewarding part about diving for Nolan “is succeeding at something that [she] never thought that [she] would be able to do.”
The sense of camaraderie that the team provides makes all of their hard work feel worth it. Being able to successfully complete six dives in a meet while also making themselves, team and coaches proud is why they continue to practice this difficult sport.
“We must work, believe and achieve,” Pemberton said.
Picture by Taylor Antal