Wildcat divers look towards state championship


With the completion of the regular season under their belts, the boys and girls diving teams are poised to make a splash at the state championship meet.  This year, the girls team is comprised of juniors Gaffney Taylor and Caroline Hufford (who is ineligible this year since she transferred from St. Pius), sophomore Laura Barber, and freshmen Kakki Meyer, Mckenzie Parks, and KP Wilkinson. On the boys’ side, Frank Love is the sole diver.  Traditionally, Westminster’s swimming and diving teams have been dominant, winning 41 state championships between the boys and girls teams (diving is factored into the overall score for each swimming and diving team).  This year, both teams are trying to get over the hump after barely coming up short at state last year and the year before.  The boys swimming and diving team has placed third the past two years, and the girls team has received second place the past two years.

In order to compete at state, the divers must qualify. First, a diver needs to meet the degree of difficulty requirement.  Then he or she must score over 200 in a 6-dive (dual) meet or over 270 in an 11-dive meet.  Westminster’s Meyer, Barber, Hufford, and Love have all qualified for state.

Both teams have been flying high this year.  The girls’ swimming and diving team has a record of 4-2 this year, having defeated Girls Preparatory School, Lassiter High School, Marist, and Mill Creek High School; their losses have come against Baylor High School and Brookwood High School. The boys’ season has been up and down, with the team posting a record of 1-4-1.  Their losses came at the hands of Baylor, Marist, McCallie, and Mill Creek. The boys were victorious versus Lassiter and tied Brookwood.  For the girls, the victory over Marist was monumental.

“That was a definite high.  Marist is our biggest rival and competition,” said Taylor. “They’ve won state for the past few years, but I believe we will repeat this domination at the state championships.”

The boys couldn’t quite defeat Marist, but the excitement of the rivalry still made it an enjoyable experience.

“That meet is definitely the most fun meet of our season,” said Love, “because the historical swimming/diving rivalry results in a lot of energy on the pool deck.”

The toughest competitor for both teams this season was Baylor.  A boarding school in Tennessee, it is well known as a swimming and diving powerhouse.  The school won the combined boys and girls trophy for first place in the Tennessee state meet from 1990-1996, and in 1998, 2000, 2001, 2004, and 2006 through 2010.

As the regular season ends and the state tournament approaches, the divers can do nothing but enjoy their time on the board and fine tune their technique.

“The judges look at the dive as a whole from the time you step onto the board until after you hit the water,” said Love,  “They look at everything.  How you stand when preparing for your dive, the rhythm and flow of your hurdle, your position in the air, and the cleanliness of the entry are all key things judges are looking for. It takes a lot of mental patience to be a good diver.”

A dive is judged on a scale of one to ten, and this score is then multiplied by the degree of difficulty.

“At the end of the meet the competitor with the highest score wins,” said Taylor,  “Judges look for a dive that is vertical going through the water, has minimal splash, and demonstrates flexibility in various diving positions, such as the pike position.”

As the regular season came to a close on the Metro meet which took place on Jan. 27, the team had some standouts, with Barber finishing a strong eighth place overall for girls and Love finishing second for boys. Combined with swimming, the girls finished second overall, and the boys finished third. They hope to pull from within in order to reach the coveted first place at the state meet on Feb.11.

“We have definitely had our good and bad meets,” said Wilkinson.  “But overall, there has been a ton of improvement and a lot of potential for state.”