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Senior Abercrombie mastering the art of diving at North Texas

Senior Abercrombie mastering the art of diving at North Texas

February 18
00:15 2016

Alex Lessard | Associate Sports Editor

@alexjlessard

After preparing for months to perform a perfect rendition of what she had committed her entire life to, judgment day came for kinesiology senior Jasmine Abercrombie. It was her time to shine, and all she needed to do is climb the final ladder, take a deep breath and make a final leap of faith.

This is the exact thought process divers across the country go through before elegantly elevating into the air on their way to a smooth landing on each jump into the pool. Different divers have different thought processes when standing on the board – some close their eyes to relax, while others try to focus on nothing at all.

But for Abercrombie, the strategy is rather simple: just don’t look down.

“Whether you think about it for a long time and think about all the things that could go wrong or you just get up there and go, you’re still going to have to do it,” Abercrombie said.

Growing up, Abercrombie was never the type of girl to spend all of her time in pools during hot Texas summers. Rather, like many divers, she started out as a gymnast, learning the intricacies of fluid body movements and developing an advanced level of strength and body control from a young age. She continued gymnastics for eight years, but after having back surgery in high school, chancing further injury was too big a risk to take.

As a result, the Houston native decided to give diving a try during her last semester of high school. Although it was a whole new challenge, the endless overlaps between the two sports helped her make a smooth transition. Mental strength is crucial, and having strength in your core, legs and shoulders is what separates good divers from great ones. 

Once Abercrombie arrived to North Texas, she began learning much more than just basic diving techniques. With more practice came more success, and sooner than she expected, Abercrombie had become one of the best divers in Conference USA.

“Junior year, I think I really peaked,” Abercrombie said. “Each meet, I did better and better. It wasn’t until conference that I realized how good I was.”

Kinesiology senior Jasmine Abercrombie practices a dive from a three-meter board during practice. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Kinesiology senior Jasmine Abercrombie practices a dive from a three-meter board. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

Now in her final season with the Mean Green, Abercrombie’s repertoire has rounded into form. Diving boards can range anywhere from 1-3 meters high, known as springboards, to 5-10 meters, known as platforms. Abercrombie hadn’t even touched the 3-meter before college, but now she’s become even more courageous, expanding her range to as high as the 7-meter platform.

Naturally, as the board gets higher in the air, an element of fear begins to linger in divers’ heads. Luckily for Abercrombie, she never had a fear of heights.

“You have to have a lot of confidence, and you kind of have to be a little bit of an adrenaline junkie,” junior teammate Samantha Scheck said. “If you’re doing platform, you’re literally throwing yourself off a three-story building into water. If you hit it wrong, that’s like concrete.”

When using the 10-meter, divers hit the water at a speed of 30-45 miles per hour, which can make the tiniest of mistakes extremely painful. Dives also take around two seconds to complete, putting even more pressure on athletes to pay close attention to detail.

In that short time, a panel of judges rates each dive on a scale of one to 10 based on the diver’s takeoff, body control and lineup to execute a vertical landing that makes the smallest splash possible. Once the scores are calculated, they are combined with the times of the swimmers to create a cumulative team score.

To prepare for the preferences of different judges, first year Mean Green diving coach Mark Murdock has focused on teaching the fundamentals to both the rookies and veterans of the team.

“I’m a stickler for twisters. They’ve got to be tight and straight, and they’ve got to be squared on the bottom,” Murdock said. “Each judge has their different thing that they’re really looking for.”

After working with Abercrombie, Murdock noticed the rods in her feet made it hard for her to push through her toes during takeoffs. Nevertheless, Abercrombie has been receptive to all of his tips and tricks, thoroughly impressing him in his short tenure at North Texas. 

“She has such strength, want and drive to compete at her highest level,” Murdock said. “She’s well collected, and she’s got great focus when she’s diving. It amazes me all the time how she’s able to do the things that she does.”

Abercrombie doesn’t describe herself as a leader, but she sets an example for her teammates with her hard-working personality. Being the only senior of the five-member diving team, Abercrombie has also gotten to know both her swimming and diving teammates outside the pool quite well – something she said other schools often fail to do.

“She’s one of the funniest people you’ll ever meet,” Scheck said. “If you don’t really know her, she seems like the shyest, most intimidating person ever. But within our team, she’s a leader because she’s always trying to get better.”

Abercrombie earned her second career C-USA Diver of the Week award in mid-October en route to arguably her best season yet. And with just under a month left until her final C-USA championship meet, Abercrombie is confident her hard work will continue to pay off.

“I’m really not too worried about what place I get at this point,” Abercrombie said. “I know I’m doing my best every time.”

Featured Image: Kinesiology senior Jasmine Abercrombie poses for a photo during practice. Colin Mitchell | Senior Staff Photographer

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