Claire McDaniels, sophomore, trains approximately five hours a day and plans to make a splash at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. (Though not literally, of course.) Last year, McDaniels won the 1A/2A Diving State Championship for CHS as a freshman, and she plans to take her talent to the next level.
McDaniels is a competitive diver who sacrifices much of her free time for her sport.
“I go to morning practice on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. And then everyday after school,” said McDaniels. “Practice is two hours in the morning, three at night, and an hour after school on Wednesday and Saturday of weights. On the weekends I train two to four hours in one day,” said McDaniels via email.
She misses first and second period to dive, and last year she left school early for the same reason. To her, the time commitment is worth it.
“I dive at Duke, all the way in Durham. I enjoy it a lot… and I’m very passionate about it,” said McDaniels.
Still, it can be difficult to balance diving and academics.
“I just got back from a trip right now, and I’m kind of dealing with the stress of missing all of [school],” said McDaniels. “[I’ve traveled to] Florida, Texas, South Carolina, across the ocean… England.”
McDaniels’ practices consist of serious stretching, a warm up on the trampoline and tumbling. Finally, she practices the dives that she plans on performing in meets.
McDaniels’ interest in diving first piqued when her family introduced the sport to her at a young age; her brother and mom dove in college.
“I started diving because when I was little I saw my brother dive, and I thought it looked really cool and so I tried it out! Everyone in my family has dove a little bit. During the summer they all asked me to come watch them do their own tricks off our summer league diving board,” said McDaniels in an email.
McDaniels explained that getting into the Olympic trials is often the most difficult part of the Olympic experience.
“We start out with going to regionals, [and] this qualifies us to go to zones. At zones we get qualified for nationals. Then at nationals we go through a prelims, semifinals, and finals type of competition. After nationals you have to score and get a certain place in your age group in order to be qualified to go to trials,” said McDaniels via an email.
Still, her journey isn’t over once she reaches trials.
“At trials you do the same thing as national, and if you place first or second then you get put on the Olympic team and go to the Olympics,” said McDaniels via email.
McDaniels has experience with this process before, and she placed well in important competitions.
“Last year I went through this and got myself qualified for junior world nationals, which are equivalent to the Olympics but are in the opposite years of them, ” said McDaniels.
Although not admitted onto the Olympic team yet, McDaniels is confident that she’ll make the cut and represent America in the upcoming years in diving.