Despite having no prior experience in competitive diving, Captain Claire Davis ’20 joined the team as a Junior, and has proven to be an integral member of the diving team. Earlier this season, Davis won her first meet of her diving career.
According to Davis, her extensive experience in gymnastics allowed her to easily transition into diving. As with gymnastics, Davis has enjoyed the opportunity to keep learning new techniques as her skills progress.
“I like that you can be constantly learning and growing in diving. There isn’t much room to be stagnant because there’s always some new dive that you can learn or new technique that you can try. In that way it’s similar to gymnastics because you move up levels and get certain classes of skills, so you can constantly be improving and you don’t really have that plateau effect that I think happens in many other sports,” said Davis.
Davis’s favorite part about being Captain is the opportunity to bring the team together and create a supporting environment. According to Davis, having a leader on the team was vital to her as an underclassmen, as diving is a mentally challenging sport.
Davis said, “The diving team was one of my first introductions to feeling really at home at Andover… It just felt really cool to know that my support would really mean something to people now that I’m this leadership role. I think [supporting each other] is something that is especially important on a diving team where a lot of the problems you have in diving are mental ones. It’s really important to feel like you have a network of support and that you don’t feel competitive with each other in a way that’s not productive.”
According to teammate Presley Kmeta-Suarez ’22, Davis is a key part of the team due to her diving skills as well as her humility and positive attitude.
“Claire is an insane diver. [Head Coach Belinda Wolf] calls her ‘Textbook Claire’ because any dive she does is perfect. She has the perfect form, perfect pointed toes. Every time she does a dive, the team always watches it back because Coach always says, ‘Watch how Claire does it,’ because she does it so well, yet Claire still stays humble,” said Kmeta-Suarez.
In addition to leading the team technically, Davis also consistently checks in with the divers to see how they are doing outside of practice, according to Kmeta-Suarez.
Kmeta-Suarez said, “I think everyone can agree that [Davis] is a great leader. She really does care about every single one of us and how we’re doing outside of diving. She always asks, ‘Oh, how was your day?’ or ‘How have you been feeling?’ which is just such a nice thing to do and makes you feel listened to.”
According to Ingrid Appen ’22, Davis is able to bring the team together through small gestures before meets and by giving advice during practice.
Appen said, “One of the really nice things Claire does is that before big meets, she gives us cards and candy, which is really sweet because it’s sometimes a stressful time, but she makes it a lot more positive and brings the team together. She’s a really great person to talk to. She’s a great person and a good friend. I go to her for advice a lot about diving. If I don’t know what dives I should do, I’ll ask her, and usually she’ll be able to answer pretty well…If we are struggling in practice or even out of practice, she brings us all up and helps us out.”
As a captain, Davis hopes to demonstrate the same leadership and kindness that her previous captains exhibited. Davis took this opportunity by traveling to Easterns in Pennsylvania last weekend to cheer on her team despite a back injury that prevented her from competing.
Davis said, “I, unfortunately, was not able to compete [at Easterns] this year because of a back injury, but with the support of the swim and dive coaches, I decided to actually go to Easterns and watch even though I didn’t compete. I just felt it was really important to be there for the team… When people on the team told me that they were really glad that I came or that they were happy I got to see their dives, it felt really fulfilling and made me happy that even doing something kind of small can really help.”
As the season comes to a close, Davis hopes the team can perform at its best at New Englands in two weeks by completing new dives and taking risks.
Davis said, “My freshman year, I learned one of my dives right before a meet. I had done it once or twice before, but it was pretty sketchy, and I was on the board shaking before I went. I hope that everyone gets through those dives that are a little bit suspicious because they’re new. I just really hope everyone dives their very best at New Englands because that’s an 11-dive meet, so you have to compete pretty much every dive that you know you can do well. I just hope that we can all be well-rested and really mentally and physically ready before the meet so everyone can be in the right headspace and get all of their dives done to end the season on a good note.”