A large group of Columbus High swimmers can be heard making laps back and forth at the new Columbus Aquatic Center Wednesday night.
They’re off in the distance. This side of the pool is quiet, an air of concentration hanging on three individuals and their coach. Slowly, one after another, they step to the edge of the board, bounce twice and dive into the 13-foot-deep pool.
They are seniors Lauren Duncan and Chris Malcomb and freshman Emma Hatala, and they change up their dives each time at the direction of volunteer coach Noelle Brena.
Brena, mother of Columbus softball player Kayla Brena, dove in high school and college and jumped at the chance to direct the city’s first diving team.
“It’s great,” she said Wednesday. “It brings back so many memories. My daughter had never seen me dive and I got to come here and do it, and she was like, ‘Wow!’”
The Columbus divers will take part in the city meet at the aquatic center at 4 p.m. Friday. They will compete against themselves as none of the other teams has divers.
None of the three divers for the Blue Devils has done it competitively in the past. Hatala and Malcomb are backyard performers, who had been testing their limits in their own pools for years before deciding to do it competitively. Duncan has been working on competition dives for the past year as part of her senior project.
“I cheered before and swim, too, so at the state meet last year, I saw the divers and thought it was neat,” Duncan said. “I had never done it before, so I thought it would be a good senior project.”
Brena said all three were fearless and eager to learn how to do it, even though doing it incorrectly can hurt.
“It can. Ask them,” Brena said with a laugh.
Duncan said it was important to justdive.
“You just have to tell yourself you’re going to do it, and do it,” she said.
Malcomb said there was less pressure competing against themselves on Friday, but a good opportunity to show everyone what they can do.
“Just to show them we’ve got a diving team,” he said. “It’ll be cool.”
Swimmers, of course, will take center stage for most of the day on Friday. Columbus, which is trying to grow into consistent state contenders, will be the favorites to take the bulk of the events. In her third year as the head coach, Karen Waters said she thinks the Blue Devils have gotten consistently better.
Friday will be about qualifying in state events for all the teams involved, as well as performing well against peers. Columbus is trying to qualify in the boys 200 medley relay. It has qualified in the other two boys relays and all three girls relays.
Northside, Hardaway and Shaw will all be represented at the swim meet on Friday, as well.