Olympic diver visits EMU

Jack Laugher flips and twists through a complex dive at the Jones Natatorium on October 7, 2014

Olympic diver Jack Laugher visited Eastern Michigan University Tuesday to train with EMU’s diving team and the campus’s Legacy Diving Program.

Laugher said his visit with the diving team was a good experience.

“It was very nice meeting the students and the actual diving team here,” said Laugher.

Laugher said his training regimen lined up well with that of EMU’s diving team as their seasons are at the same time of year.

“We did some basic work and some basic voluntary dives,” Laugher said. “It was really fun. The coaches were really good and it was a really nice experience.”

Laugher is 19 years old and has been diving for 12 years.

“At the age of 12 or 13 is when I really started to think maybe this could actually be a sport for me to do in the future,” Laughter said. “I always had dreams; especially to go into the 2012 Olympics when it was announced to be in my home country, 3 hours away from where I lived.”

Laugher said he is currently a full-time athlete, which requires him to train 26 to 30 hours a week.

“I started training 5 to 6 times a week, attending every single session you could, and really made a lot of progress. And that’s when I qualified for my first ever junior meet,” Laughter said. “It’s a very, very difficult sport. It’s actually very challenging, mentally and physically.”

Laugher said there is a set list of six dives that the divers do. The dives are in all different directions: forward, backward, inward, reverse and twisting.

“I really enjoy reverse spinning,” Laugher said. “You basically face forward and jump forward and spin backward toward the board, so it’s a very scary rotation touch that you do because you can’t see what's going on behind you.”

Laugher has competed at the London 2012 Olympics and has won a Bronze and Silver medal in the 3m springboard at the Moscow and Canadian World Series events, as well as two Bronze medals in the 3m Synchro.

Laugher has received recognition for his many achievements; including being awarded the Northeast’s Young Sports Personality of the Year.

“There’s a lot of good sports men in the northeast and to actually receive that [Northeast’s Young Sports Personality of the Year] award was a brilliant thing,” Laugher said. “This year has just been fantastic. 10 medals from this year has just been amazing, it has been an absolute sensational year.”

Laugher said if you have something you want to do, never let anything get in the way of it.

“Don't let anything block your road to your success. No matter what it is, you just got to work through it,” Laugher said. “All the negative experience you get, try to flip it into a positive and make sure that never ever happens again. That’s the only way you can really improve on yourself.”

Legacy Diving coach Jordan Zendejas said he saw a lot of his students make major improvements with Laugher’s help.

“During our modeling in the dry land center, I saw a lot of kids making huge improvements to the way they were doing their modeling as they would watch Jack,” Zendejas said. “A lot of the kids, when they got in the water saw him [Laugher] just do simple dives, we call them voluntaries. So all the kids started doing voluntaries and I don't know how it happened but I saw major improvements. It was really weird but I mean it worked.”

Zendejas said the students were really happy Laugher came to their practice and a bunch of students took selfies with him to show their friends.

“They [students] were excited,” said Zendejas. “There are more kids that showed up just to see him that didn't even come to practice.”

EMU junior Daniel Gironza, who is on the EMU diving team, said Laugher joined the diving team at the beginning of their second practice and trained with them. Gironza said the diving team had a lot of time to talk to Laugher during practice.

“We were as social with him as we are with anyone else on the team,” said Gironza. “He’s been one of my favorite divers. It was really cool.”

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