High school diving is an aerial gymnastics event with the best dives packing the most intricate and flawless combination of twists and flips into a few seconds of free fall.
So perhaps it is fitting that Shorecrest’s Hannah Stein got her start in gymnastics. The maneuvers in that sport made her want to try them on a springboard.
“I messed around on the diving boards at Fossil Park and wanted to give it a shot,” Stein said. “I was able to pick it up pretty quickly because of gymnastics.”
She went to see a diving coach seven years ago. While there, her parents paid for her brother, Jack, to practice.
“He was so good at it, the coaches did not want him to leave,” Hannah said.
Both have natural acrobatic abilities and hands that enable them to carve a space in the water for their body to slip through. They also are fearless, racing back up the ladder even after a failed dive.
And they have launched themselves off the 1-meter springboard with such success that they are both not only strong contenders for region titles this weekend, but state titles at the Class A meet Nov. 11 in Orlando.
Hannah, a junior, was seventh at last year’s state meet and is poised for a stronger showing considering two of the divers who finished ahead of her graduated.
“My goal is a top-four finish at state,” Hannah said.
Jack, a sophomore, has an even better shot. He was sixth at state last year and is the top returning place winner. But he will not offer any predictions.
“I know where I want to finish, but I don’t want to say it out loud,” Jack said.
Whirling through the air in tightly wrapped spins and somersaults requires intense training. Jack and Hannah practice 2½ hours a day, seven days a week during the high school season.
“Most people think diving is just jumping off a board and that’s it,” Jack said. “There’s a lot of hard work involved to get to where we are at.”
They perform their routines a day before most swim meets in front of sparse crowds.
“We’re kind of overshadowed by the rest of a swim meet during the high school season,” Hannah said. “But high school diving is only one-third of our season. We have much bigger crowds at Junior Olympic events.”
The brother-sister divers have two years to compete with each other at the high school level. But the prospects of the two competing at the same college are slim.
“It’s fun to be able to compete with my brother,” Hannah said. “He helps motivate me in a lot of ways. But we’ll probably go off in separate ways in college.”
Region meets determine state berths, with 24 per event (region winners, plus next overall best times). In diving, the top four in each region advance to state (minimum score of 280). Admission is $6 per session.
Class 3A, Region 2
Where: Sarasota YMCA
When: Saturday. Diving and swimming start at 9 a.m.
Class 2A, Region 3
Where: North Shore Pool, St. Petersburg
When: Diving is Thursday at 1 p.m. Swimming starts at 9 a.m. Friday.
Class A, Region 3
Where: Sarasota YMCA
When: Diving is Thursday at 9 a.m. Swimming starts at 9 a.m. Friday.