Just this week, junior KK Welsh set a new diving record at a meet against Harding. Welsh began diving in the 6th grade but she only found out about her passion for it after trying a variety of other sports. Welsh said, “I had enjoyed doing gymnastics and swimming, but I was pretty bad at both of them, so diving was sort of a way to use the things I had learned in both of those sports, and I found that I had actually really enjoyed it.”
For Welsh, her favorite part of diving is more about the community. Welsh said, “I really love everyone on the team [SPARKS co-op Swim and Dive team] and the girls are all really close and we have a lot of fun together during practice.”
The new conference record that Welsh set came after a shortened and altered season due to COVID-19. Welsh explained, “For the record, I think I did reverse dive, which is where you start going forwards and you flip backward, reverse one and a half flip, back one and a half flip, inward one and a half flip, front two and a half flip, and back one and a half flip half twist. I qualified for state this year but it was canceled because of COVID. And for all meets except for sections, we [SPARKS] were the only people at the pool at the time and an official would come and judge our team for both swimming and diving. And practices were changed a little. But in our conference, our biggest competition is ourselves actually so it’s between me and a senior from Highland. She and I would be fighting for the first spot all the time and [despite that] I definitely [still] missed some of the girls that I’ve gotten to meet at competitions but other than that competition wasn’t too different.”
Diving is a sport that requires amazing concentration, skills, and eloquence. From the take-off to landing, every slight movement, down to the split second, is crucial for good results. Welsh shared, “For me once I get started I’m usually okay but sometimes I have to remind myself to take a deep breath before I start the dive.”
Welsh also explained that diving is all about mastering the skill and perfecting the routine. “After doing enough dives, you kind of get the feeling of what it’s supposed to be like[when you’re in the air and the moment you hit the water]. And if you go very wrong, you kind of smack and you can actually get bruised by hitting the water hard enough. So for the most part you can tell if you’ve done it right once you hit the water.”
Despite its uniqueness, diving is not the most popular or watched high school sport. Welsh shared some fun facts about diving, “In a six dive meet, each dive you get you to get three scores, [they are scored from] zero to ten and they are all added up together and multiplied by the degree of difficulty which is assigned to each dive based on how hard a dive is. So a front dive is going to have a smaller degree of difficulty than a front double would be because it’s harder to do a front double. And then to get your final score you just add up all of the individual dive scores.”
Another interesting fact and more of a misconception many people have about diving, Welsh shared, is that, “Everyone is always scared that you’re gonna hit the board [when diving off] but as a diver, the scariest thing is actually hitting the water wrong and not the board. I’ve hit the water wrong and gotten bruised from it a bunch of times. I even had to get concussion tested for that from hitting the water wrong.”
Thankful for her conference win of 406.3 points, Welsh once again expresses her thanks to her teammates and coaches. And although the season has just come to an end, look forward to seeing the SPARKS swim and dive record on the St. Paul Academy and Summit School athletics page.