by Laura Chiu
For four years, fourteen-year-old Rachel Ferreter has been doing competitive diving. It’s a grueling schedule: four days a week for about two hours, each training session. But the hard work has paid off, and now she’s at the 2018 Diving Regionals, representing Freedom High School.
However, for Rachel, diving is more than just a sport. It’s one of her passions. “There’s always something new to try and there are always things to improve on,” she says. The diversity of diving moves is another feature that captivates her. “You’re not only doing the same dives all the time,” she explains.
On November 2, at the Long Center in Clearwater, divers from high schools across the region competed at the 2018 Diving Regionals for a shot at glory: not just for themselves, but also for their schools. It’s a close-knit event, attended only by the divers, their parents, and their coaches. As the start of the competition approaches, Rachel admits to feeling anxious. “I was nervous before the event” she says. “There was some pressure on me because I am one of two divers in the whole school.”
The competition consists of three high-stakes rounds: the preliminary round, the semi-finals, and finals. At each stage, divers that don’t make the cut are eliminated one by one until the winners emerge. Despite the burden of expectations on her shoulders, Rachel still manages to have fun and not succumb to the pressure. “Everyone at the meet was really nice and helped me stay calm,” she recalled.
As the competition begins, Rachel’s nervousness vanishes as she prepares herself to execute complex dives. The dive itself may be a mere minute or two, but for Rachel, every second counts. “While I was competing, I was thinking about my form and making sure I completed the dive well,” says Rachel. Most surprisingly the unexpected friendships that were formed during a tense sporting event, helped keep her spirits high. “During [the competition], I was more relaxed because I had made friends with the other divers” Rachel explains. Perhaps sportsmanship isn’t dead yet.
The competition is over, but the event itself is far from it. The long-awaited results are released, and Rachel has secured an impressive spot in the top twenty, at number eighteen. “I was okay with my scores,” Rachel admits, “but I wish they would have been a little higher.”
Though the results may not have been exactly what Rachel was expecting, she hasn’t let it weigh her down. Instead of focusing on the past, she’s been looking to the future. “The season for diving is over, so my next competition is next year,” she explains.
Her determination teaches a valuable lesson to us all-competitive diver or not-about the value of persistence and never giving up.