INDIANAPOLIS, IN, September 9. SWIMMERS have always known divers were put together a little differently. Wild and crazy daredevil types.
But when it comes down to it, the mixing of these two aquatic sports really does work pretty well in creation of a team identity. The same characteristics honored in forming swimming champions are really also there in the divers that rise to the forefront of their sport. Hard work, credibility, persistence, focus, concentration, response to the level of the competition, thriving on a sense of belonging, cultivating a sense of team.
SwimInfo thanks the Athletic Department of Indiana University-Purdue University @ Indianapolis (IUPUI) for sharing a story, reprinted from its alumni magazine, about star diver Bryce Cox, who demonstrates all these characteristics.
Special for IUPUI Athletics by Ric Burrous
Probably the least surprised people in the world when IUPUI diver Bryce Cox won Diver of the Year honors in the Mid-Continent Conference were his old babysitters.
After all, he and twin brother Luke have been "diving" since they were youngsters leaping from window sills onto stacks of mattresses in the middle of their bedroom. Or long jumping from the top to the stairs to the bottom.
"We were always little daredevils," says Cox, a transfer from the University of Michigan who turned his one year as a Jaguar into a sensational resume: league champion in both 1-meter and 3-meter competitions, the nod as the Mid-Continent Conference's best diver and holder of numerous IUPUI records.
The path from Cox's home town in Kendallville, midway between Fort Wayne and South Bend in northern Indiana, was a long and winding one. He and Luke turned their one-two finish in the 1999 Indiana state boys' swimming championships (Luke won at the state finals, after Bryce captured the sectional crown) into scholarships at Michigan.
But life as Wolverines didn't fit with the Cox brothers. They left after one year, and Cox enrolled at IUPU-Fort Wayne, which has no swim team. He joined a swimming and diving club to keep his skills sharp, but longed for a chance to test himself at the Division I level. He contacted two schools that recruited him out of East Noble High School, Texas Christian and IUPUI, and when Jaguars swim coach Jim Shuck found that Cox was looking for a new college home, a match was made.
"Bryce couldn't compete (due to NCAA rules) his first year here, but he brought a lot of credibility to our program by working hard during that year," Shuck says. "Our other kids saw how hard he worked with no chance at a reward, and stepped up their own efforts."
"I felt IUPUI was going to be right for me," Cox says. "Coach (Shuck) and Dr. Johannah Doecke (IUPUI's dive coach) made me feel at home. I wanted that sense of belonging, to be part of a team."
Cox wasted no time making his mark once he was eligible to dive again. He finished first seven times in 1-meter competitions, and six times in 3-meter events. He swept both events in the league championships, hosted by IUPUI at the Natatorium, and finished in the top 20 in both events in the NCAA Zone Competition this spring.
Shuck wasn't surprised by Cox's track record, thanks to an innate ability to focus.
"He has a terrific ability to isolate himself and concentrate," says the coach. "He's able to elevate himself to the level of his competition."