Swimmers have spent months in the pool preparing for this weekend’s District 1 Swimming and Diving Championships, but the wait has been even longer for the local divers.
Diving teams made a return to Farmington High and Piedra Vista this year after a one year hiatus. It is a return that second-year head coach Mike Ortiz is excited about.
There is always interest in diving, but Ortiz said it was important to make sure he had the right coaches in place to coach the divers.
“We got Karen McCay to come in, and she gladly stepped into that responsibility,” Ortiz said. “She has done very well in our first year, and we have a few state qualifiers. Last year, we couldn’t do diving because we didn’t have the personnel. This year, we expanded and we are working on it.”
Having diving teams helps both schools score higher in meets than they were able to a year ago.
“Not only that, but we have the ability to really showcase what we have been lacking past years now that we have better training,” Ortiz said. “It is a secret we are slowly starting to reveal that we do have these athletes here, and it is nice to showcase them around the state.”
Raimi Clark, a freshman diver for Farmington High, said she was drawn to diving because it is fun.
“You get to do flips and tricks and it looks really awesome when you are at a meet and you do something crazy and the audience is like, ‘Whoa, that’s cool,’” Clark said. “There isn’t very many of us, but we keep coming out here and performing at meets and making a presence. We hope to grow each year, and it is really cool to be on the team that started diving back up.”
McCay’s coaching has already been a big help to the divers, Clark said.
“She is an incredible coach. She was a diver in high school and made it to state and I know she performed well,” Clark said. “It is nice to have someone who knows what they are doing who also works well with the kids.”
The young divers all know they have great potential as they continue to grow in the program.
“We are a family here. It is a fun experience,” said Farmington sophomore Danielle Nelson. “I am deathly afraid of heights, but (McCay) got me on the diving board within two weeks. She works with your fears and slowly builds you into stuff. She is an amazing teacher, and I hope we have her next year as our coach.”
Ortiz is also excited about his swim teams’ chances of showing great progression at district and at state next weekend in Albuquerque.
“The kids are working really hard, and it is nice to see they are getting energy back after basically me beating it into them for the past three weeks or so,” Ortiz said. “I have been doing this many, many years and this is the first team I have coached in Farmington or through FCAT that has improved this much in the competitions they have done.
“We will have several top qualifiers place, and we will have several of those divers who will be top studs when they get into competition at state. We are wanting to go down there and make a splash and turn heads. I could care less about our place right now because we have a smaller team. I want to emphasize the improvement to the kids. Whatever points that gives us, that’s all good. I think the kids are going to be really excited for what they accomplish.”
Ten other teams will join FHS and PV at the Farmington Aquatic Center for the district meet, with the diving competition being held today and swimming Saturday.
Hosting the district championship is another chance for Ortiz and Farmington swimming to prove it can hang with everyone else in the state.
“We are extremely excited to host it. We can showcase what our team is able to do for the districts. We were asked in November if we would like to host and it was something we were definitely willing to prove we can do,” Ortiz said. “We can out on a good show and prove to the community this is something we would like to continue to host in coming years.”