KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Ten divers from Knoxville are hitting the road to the Junior USA National Championships. The Tennessee Aquatics Diving coach loves hearing the sound of the diving boards, especially after the break caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“It was especially hard for our divers because we were out of a pool,” said Coach Michael Wright. “We had to look around to different local pools, club pools, community pools, stuff like that and really just kind of mix in and get an hour here or there wherever we could find.”
This group of divers practice five hours a day over the summer months. With all that hard work comes some big competitions; like the national meet, they’re headed to in Indianapolis. It’s at the same pool the Olympic Trials are usually held at.
“We’ve got kids who just got back from the U.S. Olympic Trial last week and are defending their national titles and kids who this is their first time ever being at the national stage,” said Wright.
15-year-old Bennett Greene was at the trials and is now diving towards his next goals. “At nationals, it’s when you get top two I think that you can go to internationals,” said Greene. Those meets are in Columbia and Ukraine.
In addition to punching tickets to bigger meets, Greene also wants to mentor the younger divers, like 10-year-old Grant Garren. “Some of the dives that I do, I overthink it too much,” said Garren. “My goals are basically to make it to the Olympics.”
Greene said being there for the younger competitors is the least he can do. “I think it’s nice that I’m trying to be with the little kids as they do new dives and add more flips and whatever to try and comfort them and tell them it’s okay,” the veteran diver said. “If you smack then you smack, that’s just the learning process.”
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The team will hit the road on Tuesday, July 27, the competition starts Wednesday and goes through Tuesday of the next week.