Photo courtesy of Ashley Poulsen
Imagine having to jump off a small board at a fast speed, trying to flip, all while heading straight towards a cold pool. This is something that sophomore diver Pierce Brooke does almost everyday.
Brooke has been diving for almost seven years. He first got involved in the sport because of his participation in swimming and gymnastics. His swim coach was the one that suggested Brooke pursue diving.
“I used to do swimming and gymnastics at the same time when I was younger,” Brooke said. “I personally didn’t think about doing diving but it was recommended by one of my swim coaches.”
So, combining his skills in gymnastics and swim, Brooke started training to become a diver at the age of eight. When first starting to dive, Brooke loved the sport. Now it is more of a love-hate type deal, as is the case with many people in their sports.
“I actually [loved] diving [when I started],” Brooke said. “It wasn’t until like a year or two afterwords before I saw it as a chore rather than a choice. [Diving] is tiring and really hard, but I’m diving for college so [I haven’t quit yet].”
In order to be a good diver and keep in shape, Brooke not only practices for two to three hours at a time but also practices five to six days a week. Although his skills are showcased in the water, most of the training isn’t even spent in the water.
“We normally run and do some basic warming up for about 15 minutes, then we go to the harder work section which mainly includes core,” Brooke said. “After that we stretch and do dry board or mat flips (which is basically diving without water), finally we will then get in the water to practice until the end of practice.”
Though this sounds like a lot, every type of training Brooke does is essential to being a successful diver. In order to perform well, a diver needs to train many things because it helps in a combined effort to achieve the desired result.
“In diving you can’t really do flips without having the muscles to flip,” Brooke said. “Stretching is to make sure you are flexible enough to make sure you can be small to flip fast, and core is used to keep you right in your dive.”
Last year, Brooke was one of two divers. However this year he is the only member of the school’s dive team. Despite being the only one, Brooke said he still enjoys being on the team.
“Honestly, [being the only one on the dive team] is not that bad because I [still] get to see some club divers at high school meets that I know which doesn’t make the experience terrible,” Brooke said. “Diving is an individual sport, but it does help to have people there to support you. In both club and high school I get [support] so [being the only team member] is not that much different [than normal].”
In his first year competing as a freshman, Brooke made it not only to regionals but also to state. That year, Brooke finished 4th in diving overall. Since then, he also got 4th in the semi-finals at nationals for club, beating a national champion.
“From my own experience and at the level that I dive at, state is where I represent where I belong,” Brooke said. “I dove with people I normally compete with at club who I [know] are better, but still did decent[ly]. [My achievements] help me to reassure myself that I’m better than I put myself out to be.”
Brooke said that his favorite part of being a diver is not the meets or the actual diving, but the people that he meets through the sport.
“Most of my best friends and the people I enjoy being around I have met through diving,” Brooke said. “I’m also just glad that [diving] keeps me in shape because otherwise, I would not be where I am at now.”
According to Brooke, the hardest part of diving is not the diving itself, but rather the mental part of it. The best way to mentally prepare is to figure out a way to simultaneously think about the improvements you need to make and how to do the dive, all while performing the actual dive. If you can balance all of this despite the fear then you will be able to pull off a great dive.
“Getting over your fears is the hardest part,” Brooke said. “It’s always there but at some level of diving, you learn to just do the dive even with the fear. Some dives you get over it, but some dives I don’t think will ever go away.”