Takinga dive

Swim team gets ready formeet this Saturday

At least that is what it looked and sounded like Tuesday at the Moffat County High School natatorium as junior diver Amanda Vaughn repeatedly attempted a double back flip.

Each time Vaughn would walk to the end of the diving board, position herself with her back facing the water, take several deep breaths, jump back, flip twice and then -- smack -- her knees and shins would hit the water loud enough to be heard through the halls.

"That's the thing about divers," MCHS swim and dive coach Ed Stehlin said after watching a painful landing. "They have to get right back out of the water and do it again even if they flop. It's a very mentally and physically demanding event."

Vaughn and senior Janie Dunckley make up the Bulldog diving team. Dunckley, who finished 18th at state last year, is currently among the walking wounded as proof of how physically demanding the sport is. For the first time in her three-year career, she missed a meet last weekend because of pain in her neck. She plans to have an MRI to get it checked out.

"It hasn't really affected my diving but it hurts," she said. "It was frustrating to not go to the meet last weekend."

Vaughn also missed her teammate of three years.

"I missed having her at the last meet," Vaughn said. "We've been doing this together since my freshman year and it was really weird without her there to help me. I really missed her."

Dunckley qualified for the state meet last year largely in part because she was able to do a back flip. Now Vaughn is trying to perfect the double back so she can make the trip to Denver as well.

"I'm still working on being mentally focused and getting over my fear of the double back," she said. "I definitely have reminders that I haven't conquered it yet."

As the junior talked about her "reminders" she pointed to her legs, which had bruises all over them from the impact of the water.

"Bruises are a regular part of being a diver," Dunckley said. "After a while, your body grows tolerant to it and you stop bruising."

In order to qualify for state, the divers must combine a high degree of difficulty with quality to score well. At small meets, a diver must score 190 points with six dives. At a large meet, they attempt to score 315 points in 11 dives. Scoring is calculated by the degree of difficulty multiplied by the score that the judges hand out. For example, the double back is a degree of difficulty of 2.2. Stehlin said some of the most difficult dives in high school are around three in difficulty.

The Bulldogs host a dual meet with Glenwood Springs this weekend starting at 11 a.m. Vaughn is unsure whether she'll try the double back at the home meet but hopes to perfect it for the Jeffco meet next week, the only regular season meet at which divers perform 11 dives.

"The Jeffco presents an opportunity to qualify for state, which is my goal this year," Vaughn said. "So I've been trying to increase my DD (degree of difficulty) to get it high enough to qualify."

As for Dunckley, she hopes to get a prognosis as soon as possible and to get back in the pool.

"This is the first meet I'll ever have to sit and watch," she said. "But it is probably better not to take the chance of getting hurt more seriously."

David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or dpressgrove@craigdailypress.com.

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