Into the deep blue

"Despite the unusually large exodus of last year's seniors, the Bainbridge women's swim team isn't worried at all.This year's team is easily as good as last year's, said coach Greg Colby, and quite possibly even better.The team lost twelve seniors - a formidable number in the annual egress from high school swimming - though only one was a state swimmer, leaving five returning state veterans.We lost a lot of people, but we also have fast swimmers coming back, said team captain Allison Stover.Calling this year's team deep, Colby mentioned the loss of last year's leadership, but looked forward to watching returners and transfers perform.There's Leslie Wukstich, she's extremely experienced and a three-time state scorer, Jaron and Jenna Santhelli, I mean, I could start naming all kinds of names, Colby said.The depth and skill level of this team is incredible - I'll be leaving some kids home from the district tournaments who could score because of the strength we have, he said.The swim meet schedule changed this year, Colby said. The league has gone from two meets a week to one meet a week, and coaches have more opportunity to choose their competitors rather than swim on an obligatory, round-robin schedule.This makes life easier for everybody, he said.Time management, he said, was one of the most critical elements of high school sports in general.This is an intense time for these girls, he said. They need time to train, time to keep their grades up, and still be high school girls.Stover put high school athletics in perspective. I'm not a state-level swimmer, she said. Competing isn't even my favorite part. But I really like keeping in shape.* * * * *If you hear someone shouting at the top of their lungs in the Ray Williamson Pool, don't be alarmed. It's just diving practice.We do all kinds of exercises for self-confidence, like shouting from one to ten said Chris Miller, coach for Bainbridge High School's four-member women's diving team. Self-confidence is the most important quality a successful diver has.Anyone can throw a front somersault from the board, said Miller. Even on their first try, it's just a matter of confidence.Typically, the one who doesn't make it is the one who chickened out at the last minute, he said.Diving is, in some ways, the most unforgiving sport. The midair three-dimensionality of the performance, without anything to ground the body, intimidates many would-be divers.Nobody does it because it's so hard, Miller said. Everything happens in mid-air, there's nothing to touch, and it's totally independent.Unlike gymnastics, where a little slip is correctable, errant divers hit the water without a chance to re-balance. The water's not forgiving, the air's not forgiving, and there's no way to recover if you blow it, Miller said.Jasmine DuPont, a junior who's been diving for five years, agrees. It's a real challenge - if you don't have the body for it, and if you don't have the mind for it, you're probably not going to go very far, she said.Jasmine, who also swims breast stroke and freestyle with the swim team, said the grace and challenge make diving more than a sport - they make it an art.It's hard to be so graceful, she said.With one rookie and three returners who haven't yet been to a state tournament, this year's team is young. In diving terms, it's what we call a building year, said Miller. But I have high expectations. I'm really interested to see how things will turn out. "

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