Tight-Knit Group of Cadet-Athletes Dive into Competition

LEXINGTON, Va., November 1, 2021—Blink, and you’ll miss it.

The men’s and women’s diving team is a tight-knit group of cadet-athletes whose athletic performances take place in just seconds.

A smaller program on post, the diving team is coached by Col. Tom Timmes ’92. Under his direction, the team has grown to the current roster of nine divers, the majority of whom walked on to the team with no previous diving experience.

The cadets on the team enjoy the challenge of diving and the atmosphere the sport provides.

“You can always see the progress that you're making when you hit a new dive or when you overcome new challenges,” John Boles ’24 said. “With diving, you're always getting better, and it's easy to observe that.”

Diving is a technical sport, and success is found in the details. When practicing and competing, divers focus on the height of their dives, their form in the air, and their entry into the water. Keeping your feet together, toes pointed and creating as little splash upon entry as possible are key to a good dive. There are many aspects of a dive that can make or break an athlete’s performance, so the team diligently practices their craft each week.

“Practicing consistency and attention to detail are vital,” London Yerasimides ’23 stated. “You practice like you compete. If your legs are apart or your angle going into the water is not quite vertical, that can make or break your dive.”

“We have set days to focus on certain dives so that we can evenly get a chance to perfect each of our dives and the specific positions of each,” Bridger Thurston ’23 added. “Each [piece of a dive plays] a major role in the grading and scoring of diving.”

At practice, the divers take turns going off the boards and receive critiques from Timmes. They also use a camera to record their practice dives so the team can fine-tune their performances. To help with some of the more challenging dives, divers sometimes wear a “smack shirt” to help ease the stings of bad dives.

VMI diving teams pose with coach, Col. Tom Timmes ’92

The team keeps practices lively, and they all are thankful for the fellowship and close bonds they have with each other.

“Each member of the team has forged friendships that resemble a lifelong relationship,” Mike Menton ’24 said. “Every member of the team encourages and supports one another on and off the board.”

“The bond our team has makes diving fun even when you aren't doing well in practice or a meet,” Boles agreed.

The keystone of the team is Timmes, who has faithfully coached and supported the team since 2017.

“He cares greatly about the well-being of each and every one of the divers and will go out of the way to make sure we have everything we need to be successful as a cadet-athlete,” Carter Steward ’23 shared. “We are all very thankful to have Coach Timmes as our coach.”

As they start off their season, the team feels confident in the upgrades they have made to their dives during the preseason.

“We are excited and ready to win these upcoming meets,” said Yerasimides. 

Eric Moore
Communications & Marketing
VIRGINIA MILITARY INSTITUTE

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