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Practice makes perfect for Iowa divers

BY IAN MURPHY | OCTOBER 30, 2014 5:00 AM

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At first glance, diving practice looks a bit like organized chaos mixed with a cannonball contest. It’s a wonder how one coach could take everything in.

That is what Iowa head diving coach Todd Waikel does every day. He spends approximately six hours a day on the pool deck, scanning the various boards and tower, calling out numbers like “three,” and “five” to signal which person he wants to see dive and from what tower or board.

But whether from the tower or the board, the process is usually the same, learning and practicing a dive starts with lead ups.

“My mother-in-law … who doesn’t know anything about diving, came in one time and was watching an Olympian practice,” Waikel said. “And she was doing all of her lead ups and all her stuff on the lower towers, and at the end [my mother-in-law] says, ‘Well she wasn’t very good.’ ”

But that’s exactly what Waikel said a diving practice should look like on occasion. The third-year head coach said that sometimes, the lead ups are performed on the lower boards, resulting in a splashy dive or what looks like a cannonball.

Waikel said some lead ups are done on these boards and then moved up to the higher boards or platforms. When they move up in height, more rotation can be added to complete the full dive and clean up the divers’ entry.

But before the team even thinks about getting in the water, important to diving, and every sport, is stretching, which sophomore Brandis Heffner said is the start of every practice.

Following the stretching, Heffner said the team will do some sort of dry-land workout, which could be a trampoline or a dry board, where the divers land on a pad.

“It’s just like a regular board except there’s no water, so you can go faster and get more done,” Boschult said.

Boschult said the team holds two practices every dayand has weightlifting sessions as well. Heffner said there is also a focus on core work.

During the practice, divers are given an event on which to focus.

“Whether that’s 1 meter, 3 meter, or tower,” Heffner said. “[You] just do as many as you can of everything, and try to fix everything, and make everything the best it can be.”

Heffner said the divers will work with Waikel to determine their events for practice.

“You kind of talk it out over the beginning of the week, what you want to focus on and what you need to fix,” he said.

When he started, junior Addison Boschult, now a school record holder in the platform (6) dive, had never done a dive from the tower, another aspect of practice.

Now, however, Boschult says the towers are his best events, and he holds that record to prove it.

“You start lower and do drills and build up, and then once you’re ready, you take it up,” he said.

However, a 10-meter tower, which is roughly three stories tall, is still a 10-meter tower, and Boschult said they still scare him sometimes, but the best way to get over it is to just go for it.

“The only way to get over it is just going after it and relying on your training, and trusting Todd that it’s going to be OK,” he said.

Follow @IanFromIowa on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa men’s diving team.


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