Chris Colwill used to be a gymnast... until age seven when he discovered diving!
This 18-year-old from Brandon, Florida is an eight-time Junior National champion, and a Senior National champ too. Diving has taken him to Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Mexico — twice! And he hopes that one day it will take him to the Olympics. Chris says, "I want to do really well in the Olympic trials to get to the Olympics, but if not, that's okay. It's pretty hard. And there are other meets like the Olympics — just not televised."
To reach his diving goals, Chris works out a lot
. During the summer, his routine includes putting on special belts attached to strong pulleys and ropes that let his coach guide him as he twists and flips over the pool. Then, he practices his dives. Later, he pretends he's in a meet and his coach is the judge. Of course, during the school year, he has other stuff to do, including tons of homework. So, like many high school athletes, he practices about two hours a day.
Chris says that diving is a “mental game” that takes focus. During meets, he imagines “a little wall to block out the people in the stands. It's just me, the board, and the water.”
Chris has a hard time hearing—he hears about 40% less than other people—but says that it doesn't matter in diving. In fact, he says, “It's actually an advantage because you can't hear the crowd. It's so much easier to concentrate.”
Concentrating works better than superstition, which Chris used
to think would help him dive well… Chris laughs as he admits that he used to wear the same swimsuit to every meet—until he lost. When he lost, he threw the suit away!
Chris is a diving Xpert today, but he has had challenges too. In 9th grade, he broke his foot and couldn't dive for over four months! During that time, he had a major growth spurt – one inch each month! When it was time to dive again, everything felt weird because Chris was so much bigger. It took him two years to get back on track, but he stuck it out. “My dives weren't going well and my thoughts about the sport weren't as good as they used to be…but I just thought that eventually, if I kept doing it enough, I'd get through it. I knew that it couldn't last forever.”
Chris has had other challenging (and embarrassing) diving moments…like the time he belly-flopped at a big meet!
If you'd like to dive, Chris advises taking lessons, saying, “Keep an open mind. Don't assume that you know how to do it. Have a good attitude!” He adds, “Don't get frustrated—that's the worst for diving. If something doesn't go well, just move on to something else and come back to it.” Give diving a try and you'll soon see that it's a great activity to condition your body and mind. Go ahead, take the plunge!
more info on diving!