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Amy Roach and Seth Waag-Swift: Competing at the sole Carleton divers

<ugh Amy Roach ’18 and Seth Waag-Swift ’17 took two very different paths to diving at Carleton, between the two of them they are carrying the team--this term, Roach is the sole female diver and Waag-Swift the sole male diver for Carleton.

Roach has been diving since she was five years old, ever since she watched her older brother practice with the dive team at her local pool one afternoon and tried to join in.

“I tried to go up and practice with them but the coaches were like, ‘No no no, you need to sign your waivers, you need to get your mom to sign them.’ I’ve been diving ever since,” Roach said.

Waag-Swift, on the other hand, didn’t find himself on a diving board until his sophomore spring at Carleton, when he took a diving PE class taught by Roach and Lydia Henderson ’16.

“And at the end of that class, I was like, ‘This is really really cool and I enjoy it a lot,’ and a bunch of people were like, ‘You should join the team!’ and I was kind of taken aback but they told me there was no male divers, and I figured I couldn’t be worse than no one,” Waag-Swift said.

Roach and Waag-Swift share a coach with the five divers on the St. Olaf team. They practice three days a week at Carleton and two days a week at St. Olaf.

“It’s so weird when we have to compete as separate teams, because it always feels like we’re one team and we’re always cheering for each other and trying to cheer each other up when we have a bad dive, or congratulating each other when we have a good dive,” Roach said. “I really love the fact that we practice with Olaf.”

Because of the fact that the group is so small, and that diving practice consists of a lot of time waiting for other divers to go off the board, Roach and Waag-Swift have formed close relationships with their counterparts at St. Olaf.

“I’ve made great friends on the team just because we spend so much time together at practice,” Roach said.

Waag-Swift also likes practicing with St. Olaf. “That’s one of my favorite parts. They’re no longer a big scary unknown school that shares the other half of this town. They’re super sweet.” They are also close with their coach, who in the past has invited all the divers over to his house to watch the Super Bowl.

Roach and Waag-Swift (and Phoebe Smith ’19, another diver who is abroad this term) are also an integral part of the Carleton Swim and Dive team.

“It’s such a weird dichotomy that because they both happen in the same pool they’re considered one sport, even though you always practice separately,” Waag-Swift said. “But as a result, the swim coaches and the entire swim team just make this tremendous effort to be ultra-inclusive. As soon as I joined the team, I would just hear around campus all these people that I didn’t know who were on the swim team be like ‘Yo, Seth, how’s diving going?’ It was fantastic.”

Roach and Waag-Swift attend all the team meetings and go to team dinners. “We spend so much time with each between October and February that we become this one giant family,” Roach said.

“Despite the fact that we practice at separate times, I still see them in the Libe, I still get meals with them, so it feels like we’re all one team.”The season has now come to a close. Roach has one more season before she faces the prospect of not diving competitively for the first time in many years.

“After doing it for so long it’s going to be a huge space in my life that I won’t have anymore,” Roach said.

Waag-Swift is a senior, and his last season was rather an eventful one. To start off, when he was on campus over winter break to train, he broke his nose on the bottom of the pool while practicing.

“My coach googled it real quick and was like, ‘Apparently you have like half an hour to set it.’ And I did not want to go to hospital so I went and used the mirror and straightened it in the bathroom”

Waag-Swift said. “It really didn’t swell that much so I just kept practicing, but for some reason the swim coach thought this was a heroic effort of, like, determination and will and uses it to pump up the swim team even though it was really just not a big deal. So that happened.”

About a month ago, Waag-Swift said he had back-to-back meets on a Friday and Saturday, and at the Saturday meet he was really tired and didn’t dive very well. Afterwards his coach suggested he re-do one of his dives to feel better about it. He kicked out flat, smacked his face on the water, and got a concussion. He was out for a few weeks and when he came back, he had only one week to prepare for the conference finals.

“My coach would not let me do that dive that I had smacked on until the last day of conference,” Waag-Swift said. “I did one in warmups and one in competition and that was it. I just hadn’t done it in a month and the last one I’d done I’d smacked my face on…For reference, I came in last by like 80 or 100 points in every event but somehow managed to not give myself another concussion. That was the highlight of my season for sure.”

More the anything, Waag-Swift said he stuck with diving because of the environment of the diving community, which extends beyond Carleton and St. Olaf.

“I’ve tried a lot of sports and I always just get discouraged because everyone’s too competitive, and I’m a sensitive little flower that just can’t deal with it,” Waag-Swift said. “But for some reason this sport has the craziest environment between competitors. Maybe it’s a feature of the teams being small, but within the MIAC we all know all of the divers, we know what they’re working on, we know the new dives they’re trying to get. At every meet, you cheer for everyone.”

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