Olympic divers in SA for Spring Clinic and Invitational

Olympians Wilkinson, Cook to compete this weekend

SAN ANTONIO – With the U.S. Olympic Trials just three months away, American divers are looking for every opportunity between now and then to fine-tune their craft.

This week, San Antonio is one of the perfect locations to accomplish that.

Northside Swim Center is hosting the Spring Round-Up Clinic and Invitational with more than 150 divers from around the state of Texas in attendance. Some of the best diving coaches in the country -- including Kenny Armstrong, John Appleman, Stephanie Sutton and Mandy Eby -- are on hand, giving area athletes a chance to learn from the best in the business. That includes a pair of Olympians: 2000 Sydney Olympic gold-medalist Laura Wilkinson and 2016 Rio Olympic qualifier Kassidy Cook.

“It’s just a fun chance to train outside," Wilkinson said. "You don’t get access to a platform every day. This is actually my first time here. I’ve heard awesome things about it. I know Junior Nationals are coming up here later this summer, so I’m excited. I love training outdoors. I grew up training outdoors, so I’m stoked.”

“I don’t think there’s very many facilities left like this in Texas, with the platform, springboard and outdoor facility," Cook explained. "There’s also a great diving community around here, so the whole package really drew us to come here.”

At its heart, the sport of diving has always been about sharing knowledge and nurturing growth in the next generation, even in the toughest moments. Both Wilkinson and Cook have plenty of experience overcoming the odds to succeed at the highest levels, and both took the opportunity to talk with the younger divers in attendance at the clinic.

“Fear is big in my sport," Wilkinson said. “It’s in life. It’s in everything we do. We come to this point where we have to make a decision. Am I going to let fear dictate where I go, stop me and paralyze me in my tracks? Or am I going to push past it and overcome it? Overcoming your fear is maybe the greatest feeling you can have in the world, so I highly recommend facing it and just moving forward.”

“You can have all of the physical strength in the world, but if you don’t have the mental strength, it’s going to be really tough to perform because it is a high-pressure sport," Cook said. “There aren’t small mistakes either. You can flop or fail a dive, and you can get 10s on the next one, so mental strength is pretty important. I think you have to flop once and learn from that experience. You’re not just going to do it once. I’ve done it hundreds of times, and you have to learn from each experience.

Through hard work and love of the sport, you can really take your career as far as you want to take it. Really putting in that hard work and loving the sport, working with your coaches and keeping a positive attitude can take you a long way.”

Official competition is scheduled to begin Thursday morning.

Olympic qualifier Kassidy Cook (left) and partner Sarah Bacon (right) practicing their synchronicity prior to the start of Thursday's competition.
Olympic qualifier Kassidy Cook (left) and partner Sarah Bacon (right) practicing their synchronicity prior to the start of Thursday's competition. (KSAT)

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