Five divers, two state qualifiers, one team

Routinely stuck at the latter end of “swim & dive,” diving, despite its rich history at Evanston, is a sport that tends to be overlooked here. In fact, with a grand total of five team members, it’s easy to see why. But this season, senior Jai Fischer, sophomore Mo Frischer, senior Aryeh Lesch and junior Jamie Young proved that Evanston diving could be much better defined by its prowess than its number of participants. 

High school diving is always done as singles from a one-meter springboard. There are five chief dive classifications: front, reverse, backward, inward and twisting. Front and reverse dives start with the diver walking up to the end of the board before jumping for height. From there, rotating forward makes a front dive, and backward a reverse dive. Backward and inward dives, similar to front and reverse dives, are also opposites. To start one, however, the diver starts standing still with their back towards the pool and bounces without jumping to obtain height. From there, rotating away from the board makes a backward dive, and towards the board an inward dive. Lastly, twisting dives include any dive in which the diver rotates about their long axis.

In addition to the five classifications, there are also five diving positions: straight, tuck, pike and free. The straight position is exactly what it sounds like; the diver rotates without bending at the waist or knees. The tuck position is where the diver grabs their legs at their shins and brings their knees in towards their chest. The pike position, though similar to the tuck position, can be identified by the diver’s legs being straight instead of bent, and their grip on their legs being from behind rather than in front. Finally, the free position is used to transition between positions in certain dives. As such, depending on what dive is being performed, the free position may look different.

Funnily enough, the tuck and pike positions are also used in gymnastics, and not by coincidence, three of the four divers are also members of the boys’ gymnastics team. As a matter of fact, two of the four divers decided to take up diving this year largely as a result of them already being gymnasts.

“I joined diving along with some of my gymnastics friends because gymnasts before us have done [both sports] and I thought it would be beneficial,” says senior Jai Fischer of what made him decide to join the team. “Going to diving from gymnastics was definitely a weird experience because a lot of our skill translated to diving, but there was still a lot to learn.”

For captain, senior and Evanstonian staff writer Aryeh Lesch, a four-year veteran of the team, high marks have come to be the expectation. As sectional champion, his sophomore year and conference runner-up last year, it’s not hard to see why. This year, Lesch’s conference score of 463.10 in 11 dives placed him third in somewhat of a personal letdown.

But just one week later at Sectionals, Lesch improved on his 11 dive score by nearly 100 points in 556.35, which was high enough to claim a sectional title. A career best, Lesch was just about 7 points off the school record of 564.40—and that wasn’t even the closest Lesch has been to a school record this season. Prior to Sectionals, Lesch’s biggest highlight came at the ETHS vs. Naperville North dual meet on Jan. 28. There, he scored a personal best of 339.90 in six dives, roughly five points off the school record, 344.00, and the pool record, 344.95.

In accordance with IHSA rules, only two divers are allowed to represent a school at Sectionals, and this year, along with Lesch, junior Jamie Young competed, his first time at the event. Going into the meet, Young knew that he was going to have to dive better than he ever had before if he wanted to have a chance at advancing to State. 

“To have a shot at going to state this year, I am going to have to hit all my dives during Sectionals and score my highest yet in an 11 dive meet,” Young explained. “This week, I have committed myself to focusing in practice so I can have the confidence I need to do my best on Saturday.”

In the end, Young dove a personal best 421.95. He bettered his conference score by over 75 points, good for fourth at Sectionals, and good enough to qualify for state too. By qualifying Young in addition to Lesch for state this season, ETHS has once again furthered its reputation of having one of the best diving programs in Illinois.