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Low point for the diving team

Nothing brings a group together quite like a road trip, and practice has taken the diving teams out of state twice a week for over two years.

After structural problems led to the demolition the Smith Swim Center in 2007, a temporary aquatics facility was built on campus to accommodate the swimming, diving and water polo teams.

However, the pool is not deep enough to allow for three-meter diving.

This setup places the diving team in a unique situation — they must travel off-campus twice a week to practice with the three-meter springboard. 

"We deal with what we have and we get by by thinking positively," said Rebecca Tassell '12, a member of the diving team.

Fish out of water — and out of state

The team travels about 40 minutes to the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth twice a week to use the three-meter board. They leave around 2:30 p.m. and get back around 6, Tassell said.

"It's hard on the team in terms of traveling and commitment," said team member Kara Lindquist '11. Traveling takes time away from school work and other social activities, she added.

Diver Charles Kambe '10 put a positive spin on having to use off-campus facilities. "On the upside, it makes us much better at traveling," he said. "We are better at adapting. A lot of teams struggle with that and we are more flexible."

Three days a week, the team uses the one-meter boards in the temporary aquatics bubble for two hours each day. The diving boards face each other, said Katie Olko '10, so the diving coach cannot watch both sides at the same time.

"We are in a very unique situation," Olko said, and you "have to give credit to all of us who have stuck through it. I'm not sure other teams could have stuck it out so much."

No home field advantage

Team members agreed that the setup impacts their performance at meets.

"Our team has done very well in remaining competitive, but we are at the same time at a disadvantage because most teams practice the three-meter five or six times a week," Lindquist said.

Olko compared practicing the three-meter only twice a week to using only half of a basketball court. As a result, the team has less confidence than other teams going into competition, she said.

"They have done a good job overcoming the adversity," said diving coach Alisha Hanoian, who joined the coaching team in 2008 after the Smith Swim Center had already been closed. She said she looks forward to eventually getting a permanent, on-campus pool in order to "give the team a better advantage" in competition.

The team also regrets not having meets at Brown. "It would be nice to have a place to call home," Hanoian said.

Lindquist said that even with supportive friends on campus, the extra time needed to travel to the meets at the University of Massachusetts leads to limited crowd support.

Olko said parents have helped to fill the absence of student support at the games.

"Swimming is not a huge spectator sport anyway," she added.

Different perspectives

The seniors on the diving team recall a time during their freshman year when the Smith Swim Center was still fully operational. When the center was deemed unsafe to use, the entire swimming and diving team was forced to travel every day for practice before the temporary pool was built.

"At first, we pretty much panicked," said Kambe. "We weren't sure what would happen to the team."

Initially, Kambe said, the temporary pool seemed like a "God-send" because it meant traveling only twice a week for the diving team. Still, he said it has been difficult to avoid becoming worn out by traveling every week.

Olko said the team dynamics shifted after the Smith Swim Center closed. With a permanent facility, she said the swimming and diving team "was more cohesive" because they could practice together, which is not always an option in the temporary aquatics bubble. "The social aspect is different," she said.

She also said the diving team felt more competitively confident during her freshman year because they had more practice time with the three-meter boards.

Tassell and Lindquist knew about the state of the facilities when they signed on. Tassell said the unique situation made her freshman year difficult, but she tries not to focus on the negatives.

Lindquist transferred to Brown after her freshman year, knowing that the swimming facilities were temporary and that she would have to travel. "I valued the swim team, but the ultimate reason I came to Brown was for the school."




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