The Men’s Swimming and Diving team recently defeated Hartwick College by a 10-point margin on Oct. 29. Freshman diver Stephen Savchik placed first on the 1-meter board, posting an NCAA zone qualifying score, and second on the 3-meter board. The week before, he was named University Athletic Association Diver of the Week for winning dives on both boards against Brandeis. The team will face Fredonia State and Alfred University this weekend.

How long have you been diving competitively?

Since my sophomore year in high school, so this season will be my fourth year as a competitive athlete.

What made you decide to compete in college, specifically at UR?

I enjoy seeing myself improve at something I work hard at, and I wanted to continue one of my passions. UR is a great school academically, and being able to dive here was a considerable factor in deciding to come here. I was particularly drawn to UR’s separate diving well, which is a great asset when trying to schedule practice times around already busy schedules, in addition to a great head diving coach, Greg Brandes.

What do you love about diving?

I have a love-hate relationship with diving. There are many times during practice when I question why I continue to do the sport because of how mentally taxing it can be. However, the feeling of perfectly entering the water after focusing on executing every aspect of the dive to the best of my ability is incredibly rewarding. I also love the added pressure of competition because it pushes me do better than I could in practice.

What would life be like without diving?

I’ve been doing acrobatic sports/activities for most of my life, so life without diving would feel like a part of me is missing. I would also definitely not be as flexible as I am now and, as much as I hate to say it, I would miss the smell of chlorine and being in a pool every day.

What are some common misconceptions about your sport, and how would/do you address them?  

Many people consider diving to be an art rather than a sport, but it requires a surprising amount of mental and physical strength as well as balance, control, and flexibility. Every time you do a dive, you meticulously think about every little aspect of the dive while simultaneously trying to convince yourself that you won’t either land on your stomach or on your back in the water and that you won’t hit the board during your dive.  

What are your practices and workouts like?

We typically stretch for about 20 minutes before heading to the water for practice. Our water practice, however, varies depending on what [Coach Brandes] wants us to do. Sometimes we have ‘voluntary’ practices where we practice only the least difficult dives in each of the five categories of dives on both boards, focusing on form and precision (1-meter and 3-meter). Other times, we have ‘optional’ practices, where we practice our more difficult dives, typically with more rotations and a higher degree of difficulty than that of our voluntary dives.

What is the most challenging part of being on the varsity team?

Waking up for morning practice is by far the most challenging part of being on the team. I typically set my alarm for 6:37 a.m. to make it to the pool area by 7 a.m. For me, morning practices are hard at first because I’m still groggy from being asleep less than 20 minutes before I arrive. However, once I get in the water for the first time, I wake up and practice feels just the same.

Being with my teammates definitely helps because we’re all feeling tired and unmotivated when we arrive, and being with others who all feel similarly makes the inevitability of getting into the pool just a little bit better. And yes, the water always feels colder in the morning.

What has been your best experience this season?

My best personal experience this season was getting my NCAA zone qualifying score on the 1-meter board. However, I think meeting and getting to know everyone on the team has been an even more rewarding experience.

What is the best piece of advice you have gotten from a teammate?  

To stay focused on what’s important. My choice to be a student athlete has its commitments, meaning that I have to use my time wisely because I have less of it, and that I have to make smart choices on the weekends. Having good grades and doing well during the season are important to me, and this advice has made think of these things first.

What motivates you?

What motivates me personally is the idea that there is always room for improvement, no matter how well executed my dive may be.

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