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Diving in head first: CHS swimming and diving teams work together to bring home titles

FRAME+BY+FRAME%3A+%0AJT+Curcio%2C+sophomore+and+diver%2C+practices+his+technique+during+practice+off+of+the+three+meter+diving+board.+Precision+and+control+are+key+techniques+for+good+diving+form.
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JT Curcio, sophomore and diver, practices his technique during practice off of the three meter diving board. Precision and control are key techniques for good diving form.

FRAME BY FRAME: JT Curcio, sophomore and diver, practices his technique during practice off of the three meter diving board. Precision and control are key techniques for good diving form.

Claire Abdellah

Claire Abdellah

FRAME BY FRAME: JT Curcio, sophomore and diver, practices his technique during practice off of the three meter diving board. Precision and control are key techniques for good diving form.

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When students at this school envision members of the high school swimming and diving team, most associate them with athletes participating in one of the most elite programs in the nation. But what many don’t realize is the two sports – swimming and diving – haven’t always been paired up to compete together at State. In fact, it wasn’t until 1994 that the CHS women’s swim team began accommodating divers, becoming the women’s swimming and diving team. Members on this year’s team said they still see their differences, and that leads to a mutual respect.

“Swimming and diving are both very different and each team works hard in separate ways,” swimmer and junior Elizabeth Hahn said. “I see (many struggles) divers go through I don’t think I could do. I’ve seen them get bruises after a hard smack to the back, but the swimmers are always in the pool working on times or staying in shape.”

Hahn, who has been a member of Carmel Swim Club since 2008, recognizes the differences between the sports and enjoys the dynamic that the two programs have when put together.

“It’s encouraging that we have these teams together because we always push each other to be our best,” Hahn said.

Diver and junior Grace Woods has a similar mindset to Hahn. She said she agreed; working towards a common goal brings the program together.

“The joint swimming and diving title brings everyone together by showing that although we are in two different sports, we are one team,” Woods said. “We all are working together to be successful, pursuing our passions and supporting each other.”

Prior to divers and swimmers competing on the same team, Carmel’s swimming program thrived, kickstarting a culture of success that continues to the present day. Beginning in 1985, the team won its first state title; this year the team looks to earn its 32nd consecutive State Championship.

According to Coach Rhiannon Sheets, regardless of whether the athlete is a swimmer or a diver, team building, led by the upperclassmen in the program, is key to keeping athletes in shape to perform mentally.

“The senior class has done a great job organizing out-of-the-pool team bonding this season,” Rhiannon said. “I attribute all team cohesion to their efforts.”

Woods said she agrees with Rhiannon. Conversely, keeping the team in shape physically is dependent on effective training.

“Core strength and technique is very important to both (swimming and diving) so we have dryland workouts each practice to improve our strength in those areas,” Woods said. “Support of each other and hard work that everyone puts into their practices is also shared among the team.”

Today, swimmers and divers may practice at the same time after school, but they take advantage of different coaches to go through their routines. Divers also use separate locker rooms. Despite these differences, each of the athletes work toward the same goal: keep the streak alive.

“Our traditions after dual meets and team bonding through team dinners bring us all together,” Hahn said. “We go to each others’ meets and try to cheer (the divers) on. They come to our meets and cheer us on and it keeps a bond between us. I believe that companionship has kept us winning.”

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