Most DIII athletes were recruited out of high school, have trained their whole lives, and have received countless hours of coaching – but not seniors Reggie Anderson and Danny Condren. As mere sophomores with no diving experience, an innocent conversation in class and some posters led them to diving. While in Latin American Philosophy 3rd block, they discovered they were both going to a diving practice to try out for the team.
“I went to an open swim sophomore year with Flynn McGuire. He was like, ‘Try a front one and a half, try a back dive, from down on one meter.’ I had never really tried a lot of the stuff before, and did it, and didn’t get too scared, and was having fun with it,” Anderson said.
Condren had a similar experience. Unlike Anderson, however, he transferred from Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, and hadn’t accustomed to CC life yet.
“I was just on a freakin’ high, like ‘This is the coolest place ever, I’m gonna do everything,’ and then, the third day into the block, [Margaret Osgood] turns to me at the end of class, and she’s like, ‘You should come to diving practice today,’” Condren said.
Both completely foreign to the sport, they stepped into the 2010-2011 season with a huge list of skills to develop before the first meet, only weeks away. Each had to learn how to jump off the board and dive in all five categories, all without this season’s new rig to cushion any falls.
“It was like ‘smack!’ until you learn it, so some days it felt more like boxing than diving, because you’d be smacking and just get really shaken up, and have to kind of laugh it off, and get some high fives or something and throw it again,” Anderson said.
“I’ve never had so many heart palpitations in my life. I think I shaved like 10 years off my life expectancy, standing at the end of the board, having my heart literally want to jump out of my throat,” Condren said.
Though they did have a bubbler, a tool that shoots a plume of water up from the bottom to break the water’s surface tension, Condren recalled it was a bit haphazard. Despite feeling slight shock at the time commitment, both Anderson and Condren had few moments of doubt as they learned the necessities.
“There’s literally not a single intuitive movement involved in it at all, jumping off tall objects and landing on your head. All your survival instinct amassed over generations and generations have to be overridden, so that’s really hard,” Condren said.
Regardless of their lack of previous experience, both compete at a high level now. Anderson was an athlete in high school, playing basketball, golf, and soccer, while Condren played no organized sports. Both recapped days of messing around at community pools, yet each admitted that he received no formal instruction.
According to Anderson and Condren, neither could have learned the sport without coaches Walker and Hawking to break down the dives into segments. Each dive contains a multitude of movements; they become easier only with time, as the body learns to take over in autopilot, Condren said.
“It gets better and better every year because you get less and less scared. Sophomore year my heart was beating out of my chest probably 65 percent of the time,” said Condren. “It’s kind of weird though; it’s kind of enjoyable.”
Yet the sport remains mentally demanding for both of them. Though the body may become accustomed to a dive, the mind always continues as a possible hindrance to success each time they step up on the board. Each dive embodies a test of excitement and patience, according to Anderson.
“Those really high-energy dives are the ones that you have to get worked up about and you have to be patient for, so trying to balance that is so mental. It’s a lot of patience and because of that if you’re off on one dive, it can be so easy to just get thrown off for the rest of practice,” Anderson said.
Fortunately for both athletes, neither has suffered any serious injury while diving. Though foot scrapes or hand taps on the boards happen frequently, the most serious injury between them includes Condren’s ruptured eardrum. Attempting a reverse dive, he landed on his side, and needed to wear a swim cap and plug after the fall.
Despite chance of injury, both explain that scrapes are just moments of pain that always go away. Despite competing at slightly different levels, Condren feels happy that he and Anderson didn’t need to compete within the team. They remain great friends, and both joke and laugh together about how many falls they took sophomore year.
“It’s definitely a crash course, pun sort of intended; I wish we had a compilation of all the smacks me and Reggie took sophomore year, it was good. [My mother] definitely gets more nervous when I go skiing, and reasonably so,” Condren said.
Both expect to continue diving in the future. Condren looks to join some casual leagues, while Anderson hopes to start a diving program at a middle or high school as part of his Teach for America job next year. Watch them in their next home meet with the rest of the CC divers against Adams State College Dec. 1 in the Schlessman Natatorium.