Bringing it to the board

I couldn’t believe it. After I found out the points I gained for the [diving] team caused the win, I was so proud,” freshman Elise Kulers said of her most successful meet of the season. “This definitely helped me build the confidence I needed for the rest of the season because now I knew what I did counted for something.”

Only 14, Kulers brings a lot to the table, or in her case, the diving board. Joining the school swim team as the only diver, she has raised the team’s scores and put a new sport on Decatur’s radar.

Kulers has been on a summer diving league since she was seven years old. This, however, is the first year she has ever competed on a school diving team.

Starting on Decatur’s team was a very different experience than what Kulers was used to. On summer league, she would practice two times a week and had guidance from a coach. During this school year, she competed on Decatur’s team with no practices and no coach.

Practicing without a coach or a specific location was not too difficult for Kulers. Even though she doesn’t have access to a pool to practice in, she takes her exercise out of the water with a rigorous gymnastics schedule five days a week. Gymnastics and diving are often very correlative. Both involve strength, good form and the ability to do flips.

Although she’s more focused on school and gymnastics, Kulers said she would consider college diving if given a scholarship. Tom Trapp, three time U.S. Diving National Team Coach, said it is easy to be a college diver as long as you dive year round. To be in Division I of the NCAA, the diver must have dry land training experience, which Kulers has plenty of due to gymnastics training.

[vimeo 61731743 nolink]

Kulers says she would like to have a coach and somewhere to practice every now and then, but its not vital to her performance in competition. There are times, however, where she has a question or needs advice but struggles to get help.

“If I ever have a question about diving, I have to ask one of my friends who dives to ask her coach for me,” Kulers said.

For Olivia Roller, Decatur’s swim team coach, having a diver on the team has been just as much of a learning experience for her as it’s been for Kulers. Both had to learn rules and requirements of the diving portion of the meets. Despite the novelty, both Roller and Kulers are responding well.

“[Kulers] has been super easy to work with and the team has loved having her represent us,” Roller said.

The swim team practices at the Agnes Scott pool but Kulers cannot participate because it does not have a diving board.

“My mom has tried to contact Lakeside High School’s diving coach to see if I could use their pool to practice but the season [has ended] so that might be something I could start next year,” Kulers said.

[vimeo 61731744 nolink]

Kulers is technically part of the Decatur swim team, but because she does not practice with them, she’s felt a lack of connection as part of the team. She said she wants to feel the closeness and supportive bond that most athletic teams have.

“I made a lot of friends that dive from being on summer league, but Decatur is different. The swim team does their thing, I do my own thing,” Kulers said.

She has even tried recruiting her friends at Decatur to take up diving and join the team.

“They all said they couldn’t because they didn’t have enough time,” Kulers said. “I think it’s also because they thought it would be too hard to take up an entirely new sport.”

Although Roller enjoys having a diver on the team, she does not see Decatur developing a diving team. She also does not plan on changing the practice space anytime soon.

Kulers isn’t at all surprised to hear this news.

“Even though I would love to see the team grow, its just not a reality without a practice facility and coaches,” Kulers said. “So right now, I’m just happy to be part of the team. We’ll see what happens next.”