Gymnastics background helps divers

Same flips and twists but Claire Schuermann and Noah Hickey long ago traded in the vault and bars for a diving board.

Schuermann, an Alter High School junior, and Hickey, a Centerville senior, recently earned championship diving titles at the Southwest Ohio High School Swimming & Diving Classic at St. Xavier’s Keating Natatorium

Schuermann, the defending girls Division II state diving champion, edged a pair of Hickey’s with 497.20 points. Centerville’s Katie Polk (488.75) and Maddy Woods (443.50) were second and third.

“There is definitely a lot more pressure this year,” Schuermann said. “Last year, I didn’t have as many expectations and people didn’t really seem to know me. Now, I feel like my name is out there and I’m the one to beat.”

Hickey won his second consecutive Classic crown with a 504.20-point performance. Cincinnati Country Day’s Stewart Spanbauer (480.70) and Piqua’s Isaac Karn (468.50) rounded out the top three.

“It’s a good meet because you’re competing against the top D-I and D-II divers in the district,” Schuermann said. “It helps you see where you stand.”

Schuermann and Hickey have more in common than their diving success. Both are former gymnasts. Hickey, a three-time state diving placer, got his start in a Tumble Bunnies class when he was just 4. “I liked the whole flipping thing,” he said.

By the time he reached Level 5, however, he was more than happy to reserve his flipping for the pool.

“Sometimes you just grow out of things,” he said.

Schuermann, 16, was an avid gymnast for about three years but, like Hickey, gave it up by the time she was 10. The gymnastics lessons continue to pay off.

“I think it definitely helps my flips and knowing where my body is in the air,” said Schuermann.

Hickey agrees.

“My gymnastics experience helps my diving a lot,” he said. “It’s just a matter of tweaking the technique.”

With the sectional meet quickly approaching, both divers are working to fine tune their dives and increase their level of difficulty.

While technique is critical, the longtime friends agree that so too is camaraderie.

“When you’re diving, all eyes are on you and that used to make me really nervous,” Hickey said. “Having your friends and teammates around really helps.”

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