No Diving Board? No Problem.

Thomas ’19
As I flipped through the air during my last high school diving meet, I experienced a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. My competitive diving career, which began seven years ago, was most coming to a close.

It had always been something quirky about myself. People would always be so perturbed when I told them I dove. “Like scuba?” they would ask. “No, like board” I would always reply. My career started on the second day of my junior boarding school, Eaglebrook, when a few friends and I went to do backflips off the diving board. To their and my surprise, I fractured my skull on the board and ended up getting a few staples — but that is just diving. You try a dive, mess up, get hurt, try again, get hurt — until everything is perfect. My injury exposed me to the pursuit of perfection in diving, and while most people would never dive again after an injury like this, something about the injury was inspiring - and I have been diving ever since.

The Lawrenceville diving team became official during my sophomore season (2016-2017) when Amber Nguyen ’18 and I both realized we wanted to bring our passion for diving to Lawrenceville. At the time we were attempting to create something brand new with the help of Coach [Kirk] LeCompte who was a local coach, Mr. [Brent] Ferguson the head swim coach and the rest of the swim and athletics staff. Though we were passionate, there was one issue: Lawrenceville did not have a diving board. While there were dive records on the School record board, the diving board was taken out in the early 2000s, and the sport had been discontinued.

That winter, Amber and I drove every week night to TCNJ to dive with Coach LeCompte. We dove for about two hours each night and pushed ourselves as hard as we could. We were extremely competitive in meets and ultimately became top finishers at MAPLs and Easterns. Once the season was over, we knew that the only way to get a board installed at Lawrenceville was if we had more student interest. People became intrigued by what we were doing, so we had a “try it out” session at TCNJ that spring. The athletics office, swim coaches, and Lawrenceville divers all wanted an installation.

Due to an impressive amount of demonstrated interest, a board was installed in time for the following winter season. That year (2017-2018), we gained Eric Cheng ’18, Cristina Maldacena ’19, and Steven Leung ’20. During that season I worked on perfecting more advanced dives as well as strengthening the team camaraderie. Although we had a slow start, everybody on the team that year greatly improved. Diving is a sport that requires intense dedication and perfection, and to grow; you need to have a winning mindset. At the end of the day the smacks, bruises, and scrapes are not significant compared to the satisfying feeling of doing a perfect dive at Easterns and making podium.

I was captain for my final season at Lawrenceville. Though we lost our seniors from the previous season, we gained Margaret Waldman ’20 who had diving experience. Even though we had a few injuries, the diving team ultimately ended up performing well during the big tournaments at the end of the season. While I did not break the School record, I placed seventh at Easterns with an 11 dive meet personal record of 361 (personal record 392 for 11 dives) and a personal record of 248 points for six dives.

I am not a record-breaker and probably not diving D1 in college, but am elated by that fact that I am leaving such a meaningful legacy here as one of the founders of the new diving team. Thank you to Coach LeCompte, Coach Ferguson, all the swim coaches, the divers, and the athletics office. Being a high school athlete is just that — enjoying what you do while you can, and getting as much mileage out of your passion as you can.

Lawrenceville is the perfect place for visions to come to be; so many people here are committed to seeing the success of others. Here, I had the opportunity to expand my passion limitlessly. My high school athletic experience was so unique because I was pioneering my experience with the help of a committed group of individuals who were equally as passionate about seeing diving come back to Lawrenceville, and am lucky to have had the opportunity to work with such dedicated people. 

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Through House and Harkness, Lawrenceville challenges a diverse community of promising young people to lead lives of learning, integrity, and high purpose.  Our mission is to inspire the best in each to seek the best for all.