Saying Goodbye, Starting Anew: Words From The End Of A Diving Career

Photo Courtesy: Villanova

By Erin Keaveny, Swimming World Magazine Contributor. 

As a 22 year old, entering my senior diving season, I knew my diving career was coming to a close. Now that my conference meet is over, it’s time to say goodbye to a sport thats’s been such a big part of my life for the last decade.


Photo Courtesy: Heather Keaveny, 2009

Ten years as a competitive diver has taught me a lot about myself, and a surprising amount about the world.

This year was the first time I really learned how to compete for me. This year, I dove solely because I wanted to.


Photo Courtesy: Villanova Media

I noticed halfway through a meet at the beginning of this season that I had no idea where I was in the standings, and that I didn’t really care either. It was liberating after the amount of performance anxiety I had experienced in the past surrounding meets.

I spent my senior season investing my time into relationships with my teammates, and appreciating the little things that I love about diving, the things I will miss so much.

It took me until the bitter end of my career to be able to look back at everything I had done, at everything I had accomplished, and realize that the next win doesn’t define you.

I came in last every single meet this year, but honestly I was just as happy.


Photo Courtesy: Heather Keaveny

I may not have won, well… anything, but in other ways, I had my most successful year in sports.

This year taught me that no matter who we are, even if we don’t have the slightest idea who we want to be, everyone has a role to play–everyone is equally as important. You can be a leader, a role model, a star student, an effective communicator, a wealth of ideas and creativity, or a good example regardless of your athletic ability.

Sports, specifically college sports, taught me that we don’t set one day and just “find ourselves,” rather, we have the ability to become the people we want to be.

If you want to be better at your sport, put in the work. If you want to be a leader, take on a leadership role. If you want to be a better friend or teammate, think about the decisions that you make and how they will effect the people around you.


Photo Courtesy: Jenny Schrenker

The last ten years with my sport have taught me that every moment is an opportunity to be kind.

The first place to learn that is with our teammates and coaches–when you spend long hours at hard practices with people you gain a much deeper understanding of what they’re working on, how they compete, and what’s frustrating. So when your teammates are down, you lift them up.

In a difficult sport with a small community like diving, every diver can find something in common with every other diver. We all know how challenging the sport can be, and that everyone has dives or situations that they struggle with. Sometimes chatting with a diver you don’t know behind the board during warm-up, or hearing words of encouragement for someone on a different team goes a long way.


Photo Courtesy: Heather Keaveny

I think life is the same way– everyone is going through something. Taking opportunities to be kind might not change your day at all, but it could be just what someone else needed. Plus, just like diving, on the surface we’re all doing it alone, but really we’re all in this together.

This year I felt the most comfortable and confident on campus, and in my athletic communtiy. I think that means its time for me to move on.

While I don’t think that means I’m “ready,” and goodness knows I haven’t the faintest idea what’s to come, I do think it’s time.

So, Thank you, diving, for the last ten years, for teaching my about myself and the world, and for introducing me to some of the greatest people I know.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor any of its staff.