Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Sports

February 7, 2013

A beginner just three years ago, Blake now among state's elite divers

A beginner just three years ago, Blake now among state's elite divers

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Where many others, because of the risks or challenges of diving, chose to quit the sport, Blake stuck with it, and in time began to excel.

“The first time I learned a front double somersault I thought I might have some talent,” he said. “I thought I was way out of my league competing there, so to nail that was really awesome.”

Following his freshman year, Blake joined the club team “Infinite Diving” which operates out of schools across Boston and is coached by Tufts and MIT diving coach and two-time NCAA diving Coach of the Year Brad Snodgrass.

“Joining the club team was the most important thing to my diving career,” said Blake. “I practice all the time with Brad. That is one of the main reasons I’ve been able to get so much better. I didn’t even qualify for sectionals as a freshman.”

Not that the risk ever truly leaves diving, as Blake was reminded of when he suffered a concussion early in his career.

“I was learning a new dive on the three-meter (board),” he said. “It was a back, 1 1/2 and I came out of my dive too early and hit the back of my head on the water. There are a lot of close calls. Learning backward and reverse dives, you land flat on the water and you come close to the board.

“But the thing about diving is that it’s all about confidence. When I am on the board I have to believe that I am the best diver in the pool. I can’t be worried about getting hurt or how I match up against another diver. I have to be thinking about winning and being as confident as possible. That is a diver’s mindset.”

After his sophomore season was derailed by a broken wrist while snowboarding, last season proved a major step for Blake with the Golden Warriors as he took seventh at both the Division 1 North sectionals and Division 1 state meet.

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