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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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Feven Getachew
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Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm
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Katie Parrish dives headfirst into the off season

Photo by Helena Gruensteidl. Katie Parrish ’18 has been making huge strides in a sport she picked up only two years ago.

Katie Parrish ’18 never pictured that she would be a collegiate diver. Parrish did gymnastics throughout her childhood until high school. After her career as a gymnast ended, she took a few diving lessons because of the similarities between the two sports.

“It’s about knowing your body and space. And I really enjoy those things,” Parrish said. It wasn’t hard for Parrish to get into diving. “I’ve always loved water. It was very natural for me to get to do something that I already knew I enjoyed, but with the added water element.”

Parrish began diving her first year at Grinnell. There was no permanent diving coach at this time, which made learning difficult. People with limited experience in diving came during practice to help coach, but this inconsistency proved challenging. Parrish did not improve as much as she wanted during her first year, but this changed when Mike Retelsdorf came to the program the following year.

Parrish first met Retelsdorf at the Swimming and Diving Alumni Weekend picnic. She was both taken aback and amazed by how much Retelsdorf had planned before the season had even started.

“I was intimidated [by Mike] because the year before I was diving for fun, and it was ok. But it wasn’t part of my identity. I enjoyed it but it really wasn’t that big of a deal for me. But my second year when Mike came, I said ‘ok, it’s time to take this seriously,’” Parrish said.

Parrish credits Retelsdorf for a lot of the improvements she has made. “Last season was me learning how competition works, me looking at others and getting into the enjoyment of the competition.” But this season was different for Parrish, she wanted to win and achieve a personal best.

Parrish had never taken diving very seriously in the past. But something changed in Parrish this past fall, she had a drive to achieve new heights. “This season was a lot more difficult for me because I was really pushing myself,” Parrish said.

But this season was far from easy for Parrish. Last season she suffered from a concussion, and it still affects her diving today. She had to be cautious and strategic while diving so that she did not injure herself again. Parrish feared that if she attempted dives with too high a difficultly level she might open the door to injury.

Parrish took a different path to improve this season to avoid potential injuries. There are two ways to view diving: the difficulty lens and the execution lens. The difficulty levels include things such as flips and rotations; additional components of the dive that makes it harder to complete successfully. Execution is how well one does the dive, from how they hold themselves after leaving the board to how they enter the water.

“This season was all about execution,” Parrish said. Retelsdorf spent every day at practice working with Parrish on the execution of her dives. This proved an asset for Parrish, as she scored second in the Midwest Conference Championship this past weekend.

At the Conference Championship meet Parrish struggled to get out of her head. “Seeing that those scores [of the other divers] were slightly higher than mine all throughout prelims was a little bit scary,” Parrish admits.

Despite this uncertainty, Parrish’s training pulled through. “I really owe it to Mike and his drilling us all the time,” Parrish said, “I’ve gotten so much better [at execution] thanks to Mike.”

“Something else Mike drills into us is accepting and moving on,” Parrish recalls. This lesson from Retelsdorf helped get Parrish through the meet. Despite not scoring as well as she usually does for one of her dives, Parrish exceeded her own expectations.

Parrish had been aiming for third place, but ended up coming in second at the competition.

Parrish has already set new goals for herself next season. “I want to bring in new dives and take what I’ve learned from the one meter dives and bring them to three meter dives,” Parrish said.

Parrish’s drive for success and her unwillingness to accept mediocrity is why she is as successful as she is. Her passion for diving is evident, as is the fact she will continue to achieve new heights next season with ease.

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