The results of this kind of training aren’t just those impressive twists and somersaults, but also plenty of soreness. “Recovery is something I’ve been learning about this year,” 25-year-old Brittany Viola said as she got a massage after practice. The 10-meter competitor focuses on stretching, staying hydrated and doing whatever it takes to keep getting back to the pool, even when that means taking an ice bath. “If you can get though the first two minutes, then you become numb,” she said. “I just keep thinking about the benefits.”
Viola also pursues less punishing forms of therapy, including meditation, reading Scripture and journaling. “I like to visualize things and then release them,” she added.
Diving is a particularly mental sport, USA Diving’s high performance director, Steve Foley, told me. At this point, the team members are physically ready and know the technique, but they need to get comfortable in front of a crowd, because getting unnerved is just about the worst thing that could happen to a diver.
“You’re on your own, and no one can help you,” he said. “When you leave the 10-meter platform, you can make a mistake in one one-hundredth of a second, and it could be a catastrophe.”
Colwill’s technique for handling this pressure is to develop a pattern at every meet. “It was a recommendation from a sports psychiatrist to do that and focus on what’s in front of me. So I have my bag in a certain spot, I walk around a certain chair, I do the same warmup and then I get back on the diving board,” he said.
That way he won’t flip out — at least, not until he’s supposed to.
‘World-class divers’ ready for 2016 Olympic possibilities
No divers from the Washington region are making a splash at the London Olympics. But things could be very different in 2016 thanks to the training camp at the Kennedy Shriver Aquatic Center in North Bethesda, said Doug Beavers, program director for the Montgomery Dive Club. Not only did it give his young athletes a chance to meet the top Americans in the sport, but it’s also leaving them better equipped to compete.
In addition to proper aquatic facilities, the Olympians demanded a dry land training area — a place to practice flips repeatedly before getting into the water. “We’ve made do with space on the pool deck, which is really challenging,” said Beavers, who worked out a private-public partnership with Montgomery County to transform rarely used racquetball courts in the Kennedy Shriver complex into such a space just in time for the training camp.
“This is how world-class divers are made,” Beavers said, pointing out the trampoline with an overhead spotting harness, which sits in the middle of one court. “You don’t just try a 31
2. I have them spin and see and feel, so they’re gathering all of that data to learn what it’s like to do 31
It’s a bit odd to see two springboards and a platform above a gigantic mat instead of water. “They need to do thousands of jumps, so they don’t need to think about it,” Beavers explained. “And this way, they don’t get wet and don’t have to dry off.” Instead of slicing through the water, hands first, the divers can land on the mats on their feet or seated, or a coach can support them, using a harness, as they land in a handstand. The duo of boards also lets synchro divers practice their timing.
Although the driving purpose behind this renovation is to provide better training for divers, there will be opportunities for the rest of us to use it, too. Beavers hopes to schedule classes this fall in tumbling, martial arts and yoga, and rent the facility out for kids’ birthday parties.
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Hallett edits the Fit section of Express.
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