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The Carletonian

Spotlight: Carleton Women’s Diving

<t a sport for everyone. It takes skill, balance, fearlessness and self-control in order to perfect. The sport first became part of the Olympics in 1904 in St. Louis and since then its popularity has spread across the globe. Although not widely known, Carleton does has three divers on their Varsity Swim and Dive team. Three women, Amy Roach ’18, Phoebe Smith ’19, and Kristie Lee ’21, represent Carleton at every meet against other MIAC schools, competing for points for their team’s success. They also practice with the St. Olaf diving team every day, share a coach with their divers; Smith and Roach feel like they are part of the St. Olaf athletic family as well. Since diving is a niche sport, we wanted to get to know how and why these athletes got into diving, the particulars about MIAC diving and their goals for the rest of this season.

Diving comes with a lot of practice, and Carleton’s divers have had training from a young age. “I started diving when I was five, mostly because my brother joined the team at our local pool and I thought it looked fun and my mom agreed to sign me up,” Roach said. “From there I just kept diving on my summer league team and in high school dove on a club team for about a year.” After high school, Roach had a decision to make whether to dive in college or not. But for her, the choice was pretty clear. “So I guess there was no moment where I thought to myself, ‘yeah, I want to dive in college,’” she explained. “I just kind of always knew that I wanted to, and when I started my college search, diving was on my list of things to consider.” Roach was also only recruited as a diver, and her youth training reflects that. Among others, Roach has victories against Hamline University and the College of St. Benedict this year.

As for Smith, she initially trained as a gymnast before turning to diving. “I was a gymnast when I was a lot younger, but the time commitment became too great so I quit,” she said. “A common progression for a lot of former gymnasts is to try diving, so I took a camp, then liked it enough to join a club team for a couple years, and then I continued to dive in high school.” However, unlike Roach, when she was in high school, she didn’t plan on diving in college. “After my last meet senior year of high school I swore I would be done with diving forever, but after I got into Carleton, the swim coaches reached out to me and offered me a spot on the team,” she explained. “I wasn’t sure I would take it until I got to campus and met the whole swim/dive team, and that’s when I decided I really wanted to continue diving and being part of a team!” Like Roach, Smith had only practiced diving and was only recruited for diving at Carleton.

Carleton divers typically compete at large swim meets with the Carleton swim team, where diving is included as an event. On occasion, the divers are invited to separate invites throughout the season. Roach explained that at invites, “diving will be early in the morning and swimming will be in the late morning and early afternoon.” At large swim meets, swimmers will compete in various swimming events, followed by the one-meter and three-meter diving events.

At MIAC dive meets, the atmosphere is supportive and relaxed. “It’s more friendly competition than most other sports,” Roach said. “I know most, if not all, of the divers in the MIAC and it makes it really fun when we go to meets. Yes, we are competing against them, but we are all cheering each other on and picking each other up when things may not be going as well as we would want.” Only two boards are often used at meets, therefore the divers competing are able to become acquainted with one another.  “All of the divers are super friendly and supportive of each other, so it makes meets a lot less stressful. We always chat with each other between dives,” Smith explained. In addition, the various MIAC dive coaches work with all the athletes, providing feedback on form and suggestions for improvement that can be applied to future dives.

While diving may be a less recognized sport on the Carleton campus, the athletes still feel support from the student body and fellow teammates. Roach said, “it’s always fun to have more people at the meets! We’ve had great turnouts for the home meets during this season…we always love to have more people show up for meets and recognize what the swim and dive team is doing, because there are some really awesome things happening this season.”

The divers have had a strong start to the season. “We are starting to reach the point where we are trying to learn a few more new dives for our conference meet, which will be seventh weekend. But overall I’ve been pretty pleased with how this season is going,” Roach said. When discussing team goals, she said the women’s team as a whole, swimming and diving included, are hoping to place in the top three at the MIAC championship meet. Individually, Smith is hoping to master some more difficult dives on the three-meter board, while Roach would like to get a cut score at the next diving regional meet after the MIAC conference event. With the continued support from teammates, coaches, and Carleton students, the divers are optimistic for a successful finish to their season.   

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