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Coach helps young divers find form

Ben Bulkeley

As aspiring divers clanked off the blue plastic diving board at the Craig Swimming Complex on Tuesday night, coach Dave Fix patrolled the edge of the pool.

During the first night of Craig Parks and Recreation diving lessons, he taught a group of more than 10 youths, giving instructions on technique and stretching his arms to show the correct form for specific dives.

“Pain only hurts for a little bit,” he said to one diver who had a welt on his back from flopping in the water.

When Fix first arrived in Northwest Colorado, it was different.

There were two pools in Craig, the Swimming Complex and the high school pool, but no diving coach.

“I’ve been diving since I was in the fifth or sixth grade,” Fix said. “I was diving in high school, but afterwards I gave it up and came out West.

“When I saw that they didn’t have a coach, I thought I had some expertise I could pass down.”

Now, after more than seven years of teaching the finer points of plunging gracefully into the pool, coaching has become one of Fix’s favorite pastimes.

“I’ve always loved coaching,” he said. “It’s my favorite job, and I don’t even get paid.”

There are swimmers from all levels – from those who’ve barely touched the board, to the sixth-ranked high school diver in Colorado, Genna Bradley.

Now, the Steamboat Springs resident and senior Bulldog diver will look to climb even higher.

Oddly enough, her progress starts by teaching beginners the basics.

“It definitely helps,” she said. “I notice things I might be doing wrong when I help them. I might say that they’re doing something wrong, but I realize I might be doing it wrong, too.”

In addition to perfecting her form, Bradley said she has been working on more difficult dives for the upcoming season.

“I’m hoping to step up from my list by practicing harder dives,” she said.

Tuesday was the first day of the diving class, and Fix already was impressed.

“This is a great group,” he said. “We’ve had a great turnout.”

The varied age groups represent different challenges to the coach.

“You sort of see where everyone is and where they want to be,” he said. “When I first started with Genna, she had barely been on the board.

“Now, she’s sixth in the state.”

Bailey Kurz, 11, was back in the pool after a weekend of Craig Sea Sharks swimming.

Although she doesn’t think the diving classes will translate to better competitive times, she wants to master the skill.

“I just wanted to learn to dive,” she said. “It might help (in competitive swimming), but I just want to be a better diver.”

Like Bailey, Nick Jennings is used to a different type of swimming.

Originally hailing from Florida, the 12-year-old was used to swimming in the ocean.

“Diving just seemed like it would be really fun,” Nick said. “I think I’m looking forward to learning the back dive the most.”

The divers’ determination will help them as lessons move from the basics to more complex dives, Fix said.

“Diving is tough,” he said. “These kids have to be tough. Some will bail, and some will get better.”

Ben Bulkeley can be reached at 875-1793 or bbulkeley@craigdailypress.com.


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