From Circus Arts to Diving: Boys Swimming and Diving Co-Captain Justus Kaufman ’24 Leads with Resilience and Joy

Boys Swimming and Diving Co-Captain Justus Kaufman ’24 has been a familiar face on the Andover Boys’ Swimming and Diving team. Since joining the team in his Junior Year, Kaufman has been a part of the Andover’s diving community throughout the entirety of his time at Andover.

Although he had never been a part of a diving team prior to Andover, Kaufman quickly discovered that his skills from his background in various circus arts were transferable to the sport of diving. Over the course of four years, Kaufman went from trying out diving for fun to becoming Captain of the team.

“Before I began attending Andover, I had done circus arts for a number of years as well as gymnastics and tumbling and other acrobatic endeavors. I figured that it might be fun to try out diving, using my tool kit from these other sports to hopefully have an advantage. I have not looked back since as I am now the captain in my fourth year of diving,” said Kaufman.

Sophia Lazar ’26 highlighted Kaufman’s ability to lead the team and his encouragement as a core part in cultivating a supportive environment for divers to feel able to stretch themselves in practice.

“[Justus] is a very encouraging and supportive leader. He always lets us know that he’s there for us and always encourages us to step out of our comfort zone and to try new dives. A lot of us look up to him as an inspiration because he started diving his [Junior Year], and because of his hard work that he has put into the sport, he is an incredible diver. He does an excellent job at encouraging all of the new divers, including myself, to try and learn new dives,” said Lazar.

Commenting on the difficulty of staying mentally strong while diving, Sydney Jan ’27 commented on how Kaufman keeps team morale high. Although a singular bad day can affect the learning curve of diving, Jan emphasized how Kaufman balances pushing for improvement and getting through harder practices.

“Justus is a very supportive Captain. He’s very understanding and always tries to cheer us up during practice. Diving itself is a very mental sport, so if you’re in a slump, it’s really hard to improve. Justus usually encourages through short phrases, just to let us know of his support and his belief in us as a team… [Justus] is a really good balance between the competitive and spirit oriented… He is always trying to improve the whole team’s overall diving skills while also being the kind of person who’s very supportive” said Jan.

Kaufman elaborated on the role that he placed himself on the team: leading the team with his experience and also acting as a connector between the athletes on the team and the coach.

“I’m the type of Captain who is able to answer questions. People on the team usually come to ask me about a dive or trick and I can typically answer that question or even raise it to the coach. I feel like I am able to bridge the gap between the athletes and our coach as well. I really enjoy being the Captain and definitely do my best to motivate and nurture the team,” said Kaufman.

Lazar reflected upon a moment the team shared with Kaufman. She recalled a story that proved to her and the divers Kaufman’s resilience and strength and reminded them of the overarching goal to enjoy the sport.

“Everyone has been trying to get a type of dive called reverse dives. So our Coach, Belinda, asked him to demonstrate one and he was really excited to do it. To everyone’s surprise, the first time he did it, he just couldn’t get the dive. Instead of presenting himself as upset and discontented, he started laughing and eventually, he did it flawlessly. He definitely used this moment to demonstrate his strength and resilience. His reaction really helped all us who had been struggling that week in remembering that we are diving for fun,” said Lazar.

As a Captain, Kaufman spoke on the strength and tight-knit bond within the team as a strong motivator. Despite facing obstacles and challenges, he has constantly been drawn back to diving for the people he gets to dive with.

“The main reason I have come back to diving is because of the team. I definitely went through some experience of falling for the sport, but it was the team that kept me driven and having fun. There’s been a lot of turnover in divers this year but we had an identical team for three years where we had all formed to create a really close environment. Now, there are many new divers, and the few of us left have fostered a similar team community that we had last year,” said Kaufman.