With the Olympic diving trials having just finished, America is holding its breath for men’s synchronized diving team partners David Boudia and Steele Johnson, as they have been selected to compete against the best divers in the world in Rio this summer. David Boudia first entered the sport of diving by joining a springboard diving team for kids just Like Dive San Diego where he went on to compete in the Speedo National Junior Diving Championships in 2003, on to the US Open in 2006 where he placed first, and now in 2016 he has reached his dream of competing in the Olympic Games.
Like his partner, Steele Johnson also began diving at an aquatics club center well on his way to becoming a 15-time winning junior national champion. Steele Johnson has faced a great obstacle that most people would automatically view as a career-stopper. Although accidents in diving are extremely rare, on January 21 in 2009 at age 12, Steele struck his head on a concrete platform doing a reverse 3 ½ summersault in a tuck position that ripped his scalp in half. He fell 33 feet into the water and was motionless until being rescued by his coach. Steele was able to apply what he learned from the accident to become a more successful athlete. In an interview on YouTube the Johnson says, “Something that almost killed me has become the thing that I’m best at”.
Just a glance at their backgrounds, and a few things become very clear when asking what it takes to become Olympic divers like these guys: (1) start out young at an aquatics center, (2) join a competitive diving club, (3) work with a highly skilled diving coach, (4) learn to turn your fears into your fuel to succeed, and (5) hard work.
Springboard Diving for Young Kids
Getting an early start in springboard diving won’t just start the foundation to an Olympic journey; it also has a number of other benefits that include:
- Developing leadership skills
- Increasing agility and physical health
- Greater confidence
- Better grades in school
- Building social skills
- Collaboration skills
- The ability to follow directions
Parents, don’t let the Steele Johnson accident scare you from putting your child on the diving board; these accidents are rare. In fact, there are more accidents in hot air balloon rides than there are in springboard and platform diving. Because the sport is low impact, kids don’t wind up damaging their knees the way children tend to in gymnastics. Also, you hit the water as opposed to a pad. Dive San Diego has never had an accident and we have a perfect safety record.
Competitive Diving for Kids
Competition is great for kids, and when they dive competitively it will give them an introductory taste to what it is like competing in the Olympics (though on a much smaller scare of course). With Dive San Diego, there is no such thing as failure because, as Johnson illustrated, he learned from his mistake and became a better diver for it. Therefore, every failure to place a medal is a victory in learning how to adjust to place next time. Competition teaches kids how to lose with dignity, and win with dignity. It provides an arena for praise, encouragement, and loving support.
Work with a Skilled Diving Coach
A good diving coach is someone who has competed successfully in the sport, has an education making her an effective coach, and a love and passion for children. She is someone who can identify with them, develop them, and prepare them to be the best version of themselves, both on and off the diving board. In a past interview with springboard diving coach Marnie Young, her experience, education, passion, and love for kids is evident. Want to know what a coach with a lot of heart sounds like? When asked when and why she decided to be a coach, Marnie responded:
“I started coaching soon after I began diving. I knew at an early age that I was going to be a teacher and wanted to help others fulfill their true potential. I knew that I was good at helping others achieve their dreams and was able to give my knowledge and the things I had learned in the sport to the next generations to come. It makes me feel alive”.
If your child has dreams of competing, and wants to follow in the footsteps of David Boudia and Steele Johnson, Coach Marnie Young can get then off to a flying summersault of a start!
Learn to Conquer Fears
Sports psychology is complex. No matter the age or skill set of an athlete, dealing with a past injury can impact performance. Also, having to engage in certain elements of a sport for the first time can be intimidating for many people. Standing in a batters box while a 90 MPH fastball zips over home plate, or looking 33 feet down into the pool from a high dive platform can cause kids to think twice. A good coach prepares athletes for these stages. For example, Dive San Diego uses harnesses to help the kids feel safe and secure, and baseball players use controlled batting cages. A good coach with the right certifications and training can also help athletes bounce back from injuries while facing their psychological fears. Without Johnson’s coach, he very likely would not be headed to the Olympic games in Rio.
Hard Work in Training Pays Off
Waking up early, eating a healthy breakfast, and training hard sets the road to Olympic competition. In an article by the Huffington Post on what it takes to train for the Olympics, the author states that a nutritious diet, strength and conditioning sessions, and massages to loosen up muscles is what builds the best athletes in the world. Dive San Diego couldn’t agree more. We encourage all our divers to fuel their bodies with the best formulas, develop their core strength, and take care of their bodies.
What Rio 2016 Means for Kids Today
The Olympic Games means a lot more than simply feeling and showing your pride for your country; it opens the imaginations of children, and encourages them to dream big. They close their eyes and imagine what it is like to hear the selection committee call their name, to pretend they are on the end of a diving board with the world watching, and standing on that podium while the US National Anthem plays. Get your kids into diving while they are young, and enjoy watching them fly high!