The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Diving team concludes a successful spring season despite coaching uncertainty

Courtesy Sylvie Patterson
The varsity and JV team poses for a team picture by the diving boards.

The Los Altos High School diving team almost didn’t exist this January — without a head coach, the team wouldn’t have been possible. But when swimming Head Coach Seth Tasman took the diving head coach role, the historically under-recognized diving team took this season to prove their importance.

Diving is frequently viewed as an addition to the swim team, and divers are working to individualize themselves as a separate sport. Varsity diver sophomore Ella Phillips emphasized the importance of precision in the sport, a difference from swimming. 

“Diving is a more quiet sport,” Ella said. “It’s based more on observation instead of speed.” 

A judging panel assigns scores to each diver, similar to sports like ice skating and gymnastics. Scores are based on the difficulty and execution of the move performed. While it is often viewed as artistic, diving is a high-impact sport with great risks involved. Divers advance toward the water at breakneck speeds and must use accurate techniques.

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Ella explained that this demand for precision makes it uncommon for people to attempt diving at a young age. Many divers on the LAHS team join the sport with little experience and the season begins as a review of the basics for everyone. 

Sophomore Haley Volkert joined the team in her freshman year with a background in gymnastics, and her spatial awareness translated well to diving. 

“The community is very welcoming, fun and friendly,” Haley said. “Just because you haven’t dived before doesn’t mean anything. I didn’t know how to dive but I learned and improved so much these last 2 years.”

This year, former Head Coach Kailey Gould had to take a step back to focus on graduate school, so Tasman stepped in to aid the team by managing meets and supervising their practices. Gould still came to as many practices as she could this season, coaching a couple of days a week and supporting divers in every way she could.

“My main goal as a coach is to help athletes do things they never thought they would be able to do,” Gould said. “I do this by building strong relationships with my athletes, encouraging them to do their best and holding them to high standards.”

The LAHS diving team has fourteen JV divers and five varsity divers, making them one of the larger programs in the SCVAL De Anza division. Even though diving teams tend to be smaller than other sports, that makes the community a tight-knit one. Meets allow the team to connect with divers from other schools and get advice from different coaches. 

“Even if we are diving against them, coaches from the other team will help coach my athletes,” Gould said. “Everyone’s main goal is for all divers to improve, no matter what team they are on.”

Despite the friendly atmosphere, the sport involves a lot of psychological pressure. Each diver competes in six different dives, and there is a small margin for error. 

“If you smack on a certain dive, then you kind of develop a mental block, where you physically just cannot do it,” Ella said. “You stand up on the board and can’t commit to go. It can give you a lot of anxiety.” 

It is common for less experienced divers to smack the water with their head or their backs, but divers work hard to fight this fear. 

“It helps doing drills and not giving up if things don’t work out the way you want it to,” Ella said. 

The season for JV divers ended on Tuesday, April 19 but varsity members Ella and sophomore Victoria So competed in CCS on Tuesday, April 23 for the 1-meter final. Ella placed fifth and Victoria placed 19th out of 48 girls. 

“I get really antsy before meets, but I perform dives better because I am under a lot of pressure,” Ella said. 

Now that the 2024 season has come to a close, LAHS divers have high hopes for the future of their team. 

“If we continue working, especially if the same girls do the team next year, a lot of us can make CCS; even some of us can make states,” Ella said. “It really depends on the commitment of each diver individually.”

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