KMC Crusade

Experience Diving with the New Dive Team

Sophee King and Kaegan Cowan

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Girls diving practice at North High April 10.

Thanks to sophomore Anna Kennedy and senior Maura Steincamp for wearing the GoPro.

Video by Sophee King

Story by Kaegan Cowan

Kaylee Stout
Flying through the air, freshman Mikaela Meyer performs a
reverse dive in a meet at West April 14. Meyer became the first of the divers on the team to qualify for the state competition in Topeka May 17-19, and broke the school record for most points in a single meet with 336.75.

Just as anybody trying the high dive at the pool for the first time must take a leap of faith to overcome their initial fear, so too did a group of eight Kapaun Mt. Carmel girls decide to take the plunge (in more ways than one) and try diving this season.

For years (10 to be exact), the boys and girls swim teams have lost significant points in meets due to a lack of a diving team. President Rob Knapp explained the benefits of a diving team.

“Diving is one full event in every dual meet that we have,” Knapp said. “Without a diving team, we have to take a zero in that event. Any of our competitors who have divers automatically get points scored over us, so by having a diving team, we are not digging ourselves in a hole for every dual meet.”

After a group of girls asked about the possibility of a team, plans began for a diving team again. Diving coach Melody Turley explained how the KMC diving team came to be this season.

“[Swim] coach Chris [Erickson] and I had a conversation in early February about a girls dive team at KMC,” Turley said. “He indicated that there was interest and I told him to send the girls over to North, where I run district dive practices.”

Though seniors often are the leaders of many high school athletic teams, Knapp credited freshman Mikaela Meyer with leading the push, along with a few other girls, to start a diving team. Meyer, who has a gymnastics background, said she was not sure about diving at first, but she was convinced to try it by her mother. As it turned out, Meyer became the first of the eight divers to jump off the board at practice.

“I was the first one off the board,” Meyer said. “That was terrifying. But, after I did one or two straight jump approaches or pencil dives, I was fine.”

There are a couple of peculiarities with diving practices—there is only one high school diving coach in Wichita, and there are only a few diving wells (deep pool areas with diving boards) in the city as well. There is not even a diving well at KMC’s home pool, Wichita Swim Club, meaning that the KMC divers have to be flexible with their time so they can attend practices at North.

The divers practice with other Wichita schools’ diving teams under the same coach, Turley, which would be a strange arrangement for most sports. However, senior Maura Steincamp says this is not an issue.

“It’s not really weird because there are two boards, and it tends to be Kapaun girls at one and the other schools at the other board,” Steincamp said. “I don’t really think there’s favoritism [with the coaching] because it kind of feels like we’re all one team even though we do kind of segregate ourselves.”

Knapp said he thought the main reason there had not been a girls or boys diving team at KMC for awhile was that students were scared to start a team. He praised the courage of this season’s diving team.

“I think that there has been a reticence on the part of some of our students, boys and girls, to step out and try something new,” Knapp said. “But, in this case, we had a few girls who stepped up and said, ‘No matter what, I’m going to try this,’ and I think the courage and the bravery that that took also brought others out from behind that shroud to say, ‘You know what, if she’s going to try it, I’m going to try it, too.’ Sometimes that’s what it takes to get involved in something you otherwise wouldn’t get involved in.”

There used to be a diving team at KMC, and it last competed in 2007, but this team has started the program again with a renewed vigor. Steincamp said the new team is just looking for improvement in its first season.

“I think everyone’s just expecting a lot of progress, because everyone pretty much started out with nothing; no one really knew anything [about diving],” Steincamp said. “A couple of people just kind of went for it and got a couple of dives pretty fast, but [we expect] progress.”

The diving team has had very good results so far, smashing previous KMC diving records, and aiding to a few of the swim and dive team’s big victories. The team beat perennial swim and dive power East 381-366 in the Northwest Invitational April 7, finishing first. Meyer and junior Harper Amend qualified for the state competition, to take place May 17-19 in Topeka.

 

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