Success on the diving board


Drew Pedersen

The stands were filled at Grand Haven High School as the 50 yard freestyle came to a close. The divers started to get ready for their event: the 1 meter competition.  Varsity Diver Sr. Emma VonHoltz was expected to win.

  Tthe water sat still as VonHoltz climbed the steps onto the diving board. Everyone sat in silence, waiting for VonHoltz to begin her dive. She raised her arms as if to signal to the crowd and to the judges that she was about to jump. She jumped once, twice, and then off the diving board on the third and sprang into a front two and a half (105b), eventually striking the water with almost no splash. Seconds later the crowd cheered as VonHoltz swam to the surface to receive her score of 55.9. VonHoltz performed well and won, just like expected, but the expectations were not this high at the beginning of the season. Throughout the season, VonHoltz outperformed expectations.

  VonHoltz has put up fantastic numbers this season and it came at the right time.  There is no better year to exceed expectations from coaches and teammates than one’s senior year, and VonHoltz has done just that. Even after a conference win last season, many people did not expect VonHoltz to perform as well as she has this year.

  Sr. teammate Kasidy Kuzmanko said, “After an impressive season last year, I did not expect Emma to dominate as much as she did.  She really stepped up her game even more.”  Similar to Kuzmanko, Diving coach Jane Meyers had some encouraging words about VonHoltz. She said, “I knew the potential Emma had for breaking records, which I told her at the beginning of the season… I think Emma has gained a lot of confidence this year, along with her work ethic and difficult list of dives, I believe all of these have contributed to her success.” Meyers knew VonHoltz had the ability but did not expect her to dominate as much as she did.

  In addition to Kuzmanko and Meyers, younger sister and teammate Jr. Katelyn Kuzmanko also found VonHoltz’s dominance surprising. She said “I always knew Emma was a super hard worker and a great diver, but this year she really perfected all of her dives and continued to try new things. It helped her in the long run because now she is breaking personal records and pool records.” Katelyn thought VonHoltz was very dominant this year, but understands that her success was worked hard for and well deserved.

  VonHoltz has won a great number of meets and has dominated the competition this year. In fact, out of all the dual meets VonHoltz competed in, VonHoltz won all but one. Her one loss came to Grandville diver Gracyn Segard, who outscored VonHoltz 293.45 to 287.05. The six point margin is very slim for a diving competition. Other than VonHoltz’s one loss, she has been dominant and recorded one of the highest scores in the state against Grand Haven on September 22, with a 298.15.

  This outstanding score broke the West Ottawa 6 dive record. Just as Meyers mentioned earlier, “I knew the potential Emma had for breaking records.” VonHoltz outscored Frosh. teammate Carissa Wooley by almost 98 points, a massive winning margin. Kasidy said, “Emma has done a super good job this season, it’s super fun watching her perform all of her sweet dives and it’s exciting to watch her win.” Obviously, teammates of VonHoltz are impressed in her outstanding work this season and the success she has achieved. Her senior season must have been special.

  This type of success is not easy . Diving is a complicated skill to master and takes a lot more than being able to perform certain twists and flips. As VonHoltz put it, “Diving is more of a mental game than physical, although it is definitely difficult in both aspects. This means that during a meet, divers have to manipulate their brains to stay both calm and collected, and to mentally work through all of their different dives. So, keeping your adrenaline under control while trying to do all of the different mechanics really takes some skills.”  

  In diving, not only does VonHoltz have to worry about what she is going to do each dive, but also has to worry about how she is going to avoid smacking the water, receiving a poor score, and ruining her chances of winning. VonHoltz has perfected both her mental and physical skills this season and has limited any chances of smacking the water.  According to VonHoltz, her success has been due to “all of the hard work and long hours I put in year round, in the pool, during dryland, and in weightlifting. In diving, consistency, and strength, and mechanics are keys to success, and to consistently be able to control how your body moves in the air, the mechanics of the dive must be drilled into your head through hundreds of repetitions.” Obviously, there is a lot more to diving than just doing flips and landing smoothly, it takes repetitions and constant mental and physical routines of each and every dive. Contrary to some divers, VonHoltz does not feel like she has a key dive that if she nails, she will most likely finish the competition well.   This mentality has also contributed to VonHoltz’s dominance this season.

  Now being a major contributor to the team’s point totals. VonHoltz said “getting to  lead the team with other seniors has been a lot of fun… this season has definitely been my favorite season.” VonHoltz has enjoyed being a leader on the girls swim and dive team and is glad to be a part of a team who was ranked 5th in the state at one point this season. But along with her dominance, VonHoltz said “Even though there has not been much competition at my level of diving, it has been amazing to be able to cheer on my teammates and to see how the people I know on other teams have improved.” Along with performing exceptionally well and outperforming expectations, VonHoltz has enjoyed her senior season and says that “This season is not one I will forget.”

Come out to Grand Haven High School for the conference meet this weekend.  Diving will take place on Thursday and Saturday.