How to Become an Olympian: Diving

It’s a moment we’ve all dreamt about. Standing on the podium in a stadium packed with fans, the United States flag flying high, the Star Spangled Banner blaring. Very few athletes in history have been able to experience that moment, but that doesn’t mean that we all haven’t sat in our living rooms, singing along with the anthem, believing that it could be us.

Olympic athletes are more relatable than pro sports stars like LeBron James or Tom Brady. Most of them aren’t 6-8, 230 pounds. Many don’t have other-worldly athleticism or Adonis bodies. Their greatness, for the most part, comes from a near-maniacal dedication to their craft.

In our “How to become an Olympian” series, we will show you where to go, how to get started, and who to contact

So how do you become an Olympic diver?

Well, first you need to get started at a local diving club. There are four clubs associated with USA Diving in Connecticut, and each of them offer an opportunity to learn the fundamentals of diving, compete against divers of similar skill level, and eventually earn the chance to dive against national and international competition.

Marlins Diving

The Marlins Diving Club in Greenwich, hosts Open Dive Fridays and is run by former national champion and USA National team member Lindsay Weigle.

Marlins offers a “Learn to Dive” program for beginners, a “Novice Team” for 13-and-under divers who want to improve their skills in the 1-meter and 3-meter distances, and a “Tri-State Team,” which competes in the Tri-State League and other Junior Olympic events. From there, divers can move on to the Junior Olympic teams, which consist of the highest level of commitment and training. Junior Olympic divers compete at regional, national, and even international events and practice five times a week for two and a half hours. (Hey, you want to be an Olympian, don’t you?) Marlins sponsors two teams, one for ages 12 and up, and one for kids 11 and under.

For more information on the Marlins Club, visit their official website, send an email to marlinsdiving@gmail.com, or call 203-869-1630 ext. 305.

Next Generation Diving

With locations in Bridgeport, Norwalk and New Haven, Next Generation Diving offers aspiring divers in Fairfield and New Haven counties a chance at pursuing their Olympic dream.

Next Generation is led by Yale diving head coach Chris Bergere, and offers programs for beginners through the Junior Olympic level. Lessons are held for beginners at the Norwalk YMCA Mondays through Thursdays from 5 to 6 pm. You can even make your own schedule.

From there, Next Generation offers a “Skills Level” program, which focuses on developing the fundamentals necessary to compete at a higher level. These divers commit to practice at least twice a week, and compete in novice events at local invitationals. “Competitive” divers commit to year-round training, and practice at least 3 days a week. These divers compete in Junior Olympic events and travel to zone, regional, and national events, as determined by the coaching staff. Next Generation also fields a Junior Olympic team, which practices 5 days a week and competes in Junior Olympic events throughout the country.

For more information on Next Generation, send an email to Jeanine Oburchay at joburchay@optonline.net, or call 203-521-2006.

SoCo Diving

The Southern Connecticut Diving Club is located in Naugatuck, and is run by Jesse Cyr, who is the head diving coach at Southern Connecticut State University. The club offers three programs, “Pre-JO,” which is for pre-Junior Olympic divers. These athletes will compete in the Tri-State League, and will be encouraged to attend AAU events. They practice two days a week. From there, divers can compete on a Junior Olympic team, which is open to divers who have developed a full U.S. diving list in the 1-meter and 3-meter distances. They practice 3-6 days per week. SoCo also offers a “High School” level, at which divers compete for the state high school championship.

For more info, visit www.socodiving.com, send an email to Jesse Cyr at jesse@socodiving.com, or call 203-723-5368.

Whirlwind Diving

Headquartered at the New Canaan YMCA, Whirlwind Diving is run by Joseph Somma, who was an All-ACC diver at Clemson University. He is assisted by 2006 Big East champion Allison Coleman. Whirlwind offers four levels: “Development,” which is designed for beginners and meets two days a week for two months, “Blue,” for divers looking to hone their skills and improve fundamentals but do not yet want to compete in meets, a Tri-State League Team, and a Junior Olympic team.

For more info, visit www.NCYWWD.com, send an email to whirlwinddiving@aol.com, or call 203-966-4528.

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