By Shawn Coates (@shawncoates)
Winnipeg athletes made a big splash at the 2014 Manitoba Diving Championships, held at the Pan Am Pool over weekend.
The three-day event culminated Sunday with finals in several age categories. The championships were one of the largest in Manitoba Diving history, with 95 divers from four provinces competing in 1-metre and 3-metre springboard events and 5-metre, 7-metre and 10-metre tower events.
“We had a sensational turnout this weekend,” said Ken Stevens, executive director of Manitoba Diving. “We had everything from novice to provincial and national-level competitors. It’s been an awesome weekend and a lot of fun. We’ve seen a lot of great scores.”
Serena Buchwald was one of the Winnipeg athletes who recorded outstanding marks. Competing in the 1-metre, 3-metre, tower and open age group categories, the 14-year-old representing the Revolution Diving Club notched personal best scores in all of her events, which qualified her for the 2014 Canadian Junior Elite National Championships, slated for Victoria, B.C. in August.
“To get a personal best at your home pool always feels pretty good,” said Buchwald. “It makes you feel happy and proud. It makes you feel that all the training and hard work pays off.”
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Despite only being in her third year of diving, the Dallas Ludwick-coached athlete is rapidly rising in the sport. She already possesses a competitive perspective beyond her years.
“Competition is just a little stop on the way to see how you’re going,” she said. “The real race in the sport is training and how many corrections can you make in your training. Each competition is just a stop to see how much you’ve improved since the last competition.”
Another Winnipegger who stood out at the provincial event was Talia Groening. The 11-year-old took part in the 1-metre, 3-metre and tower events. Her 278 total points in the 1-metre competition crushed the national standard of 235 points and qualified her for the Canadian Junior Development National Championships in Montreal this July.
“I’m really excited about going to nationals,” Groening said. “(Coach Leanna Martin) has really got me to overcome my fears and she’s corrected a lot of things with my dives.”
The performances by local athletes this weekend gives Stevens hope for the future of the sport in the province.
“Diving is Manitoba is in a strong position for growth and development,” he said. “I see nothing but greater successes at the provincial and national level right now and the international level in two to three years from now.”