No family pressure for Hawkeye diver Freeman

BY TORK MASON | OCTOBER 19, 2011 7:20 AM

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As the daughter of a pole-vaulter and a high-jumper and the sister of an All-American diver, Nicolette Freeman would seem to have quite the pedigree.

But don't think the freshman diver feels any added pressure because of her athletics lineage.

Freeman's father, Will, pole-vaulted for Florida; her mother, Evelyn, high-jumped at the University of Toronto (Canada). And while her older sister, Deidre, was one of the best divers in Hawkeye history, Nicolette said she doesn't see herself in her recently graduated sister's shadow.

"We're both two different people, and stylistically, we're two different divers," she said. "If she has more success than I do, I'm proud of her."

Nicolette Freeman may not feel any sense of sibling rivalry when it comes to diving, but she said she does partly owe the start of her career to her sister.

The Freeman sisters both participated in acrobatics growing up, and one day the swimming coach at Grinnell (Iowa) High asked Deidre Freeman to come out for the swimming and diving team.

Nicolette Freeman then developed her own interest in the sport by watching her sister.

She said the influence is still present.

"I'm just thankful to have her as my sister," she said. "She's been a great role model in my life, and she's been my mentor in the sport."

Not many siblings can share the same interests, she said, and it's nice to have someone there to talk to who "knows what you're going through."

Nicolette Freeman chose Iowa over Albion College, a Division-III school in Albion, Mich., but said she never seriously considered attending school anywhere but Iowa City. She said her familiarity with the coaching staff and campus was a key factor in her decision — and so was the opportunity to compete on a big stage.

"Seeing [Deidre] go to the University of Iowa was such a big deal, coming from a small town where not a lot of people get that opportunity," she said. "I'm just thankful that I have the opportunity to come to Iowa also."

Senior diver Veronica Rydze said she's noticed a few traits that the sisters share.

"The both smile a lot and are a lot of fun to be around," said Rydze, who is competing with Deidre Freeman at the U.S. Olympic trials in synchronized diving. "You can tell they're sisters."

Deidre Freeman agrees.

"She has the most bubbly personality, and she's one of the most fun people to be around," she said.

She said her younger sister is a different style of diver because Nicolette is taller and less flexible than she is, but she is still a well-rounded athlete who can do a lot of things well and who is "very motivated."

"She's the type of athlete that every coach wants to coach," she said.

Rydze also praised Nicolette Freeman's work ethic, saying her hard work is evident in her strength and how high she's able to get off the board.

Nicolette Freeman won't dive on Thursday when the team travels to Madison, Wis., to take on the Badgers — but that won't keep her from trying to improve.

"I'm really excited to see my improvement and where I can go," she said. "I'm just going to try my best."

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