A fear of heights is the first hurdle competitive divers have to overcome to get to the next level.
The next, integral one is technique – and a trio of divers from the Walnut Grove-based Fraser Valley Diving (FVD) club have been tirelessly trying to perfect the latter, leading up to their respective national championship meets in Montreal and Winnipeg.
Jessie Nowotny is prepping for the Speedo Junior Elite National Championships July 21 to 24 in Winnipeg, where the 15-year-old will compete on the one-metre and three-metre springboards as well as in the synchronized one- and- three-metre springboard events.
Jessie’s clubmates Paige Bush, 10, and Jayden Poole, 12, are in Montreal this weekend (July 8 to 10) for the Speedo Junior Development National Championships.
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To make it to nationals, each of the local divers had to qualify twice on each of their boards (events). They did this by exceeding the required point totals for each event at local and Western Canadian meets.
All three have done so and have placed on the podium often (first, second, or third) in the process.
An admitted “adrenaline junkie,” Jayden has enthusiastically plunged into diving.
In Montreal, the Yorkson Creek Middle School student will be competing in Group C, going up against athletes from across Canada on the one- and- three-metre springboards, and on the tower platform.
This is Jayden’s first taste of national competition and he isn’t sure what to expect.
“The experience is going to be really cool,” Jayden said. “I’m hoping that I do really good. As long as I’m not last, that’s pretty good.”
Jayden has always liked getting air time. He was a trampoline gymnast but after suffering an injury, switched to diving.
“I’ve always liked the heights and the flips,” he said.
Shifting to diving was a relatively smooth transition.
“It wasn’t too scary, except for when I’m learning some of the harder dives,” Jayden said.
Jayden practises six times a week, which adds up to roughly 19-and-a-half hours, training most of the time in Walnut Grove Community Centre pool but also in Vancouver.
He also does dryland training with PacificSport’s Ignite Program as well as at Flip City Gymnastics Centre.
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Veteran at 15
Jessie is no stranger to national-level meets.
This will be her third trip to a Canadian championships, having previously competed at national meets when she was 12 and 14.
In two weeks time, in the Group B, Tier 1 level, she has her sights set on making top 12.
“Hopefully top six,” the R.E. Mountain Secondary student added. “Not sure about medalling, though.”
She uses high calibre meets such as these as a learning tool. “It teaches me a lot about competing. I learn a lot.”
She trains four days a week with FVD.
“I learn as much as I can,” Jessie said.
Mom great support
Paige admits her first experience at nationals “was a little bit scary.”
“I was proud of myself, I got in the top 12,” she shared, reflecting on the July 2015 meet in Quebec City.
Going into this weekend’s meet, where she’ll be competing in Group D, Tier 1 one- and- three-metre springboards, Paige knows full well that the competition will be stiff.
“There are many girls in my group this time,” she said. “Last time there were only 12 or 13. This time there are about 22.”
Paige said she’s ready for the challenge.
“I think I’ve got my take-offs and my entries… just the important stuff that kind of gives me more of a high mark,” she elaborated.
Joining Paige in Montreal is her mom Tanya, whom Paige said “is my whole life.”
“She’s everything. Basically the only reason I can make it this far is because of her,” Paige said. “She supports me through everything, the bad or the good.”