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Grinnell alum Eric Blevins wins gold at FINA World Masters Championship

By Eva Hill
hilleva@grinnell.edu

Former Pioneer diver Eric Blevins ’04 won two gold medals at the FINA World Masters’ Championships in Gwangju, South Korea earlier this month, one for the one-meter and one for the three-meter springboard in the 35-39 age group (Blevins is 37). Blevins represented the U.S. in the event through the East Coast Masters Diving Club. He secured the wins, as well as his new personal record, with a total score of 316.85 for the three-meter board, over 40 points ahead of the runner-up, and a total score of 287.30 for the one-meter board with a lead of close to 40 points. The medals are his first international titles. 

Blevins described his feelings after he won the two events. “There was kind of a mix of emotions. A lot of relief; the last two world championships, I got silver on both, and this year I had a lot of injuries going on. The first event, I knew I pretty much had it in the bag, so that was kind of a relief – it was that, and excitement. I couldn’t really believe it,” said Blevins.

When he first came to Grinnell, Blevins had never dived before. He intended to play football but had to leave the sport after a number of injuries. An acquaintance encouraged him to try diving, and Blevins soon became a star member of the team, doing extra solo practice and meeting with coaches to improve his skills. During his time at Grinnell, he was a two-time All-American and became the first diver to win eight Midwest Conference diving championships. In 2014, Blevins was inducted into the Grinnell College Athletics Hall of Fame. Coach Erin Hurley of the Grinnell swim and dive team weighed in on Blevins’ success. “It’s not unusual at Grinnell for people to come in that have very limited diving experience, but to take it as far as he has and then continue to do it post-graduation is very unusual,” said Hurley.

Today, Blevins coaches diving at The College of New Jersey and runs a competitive diving club, the Jersey Diving Academy. “Erin [Hurley] played such a vital role in my college career, and I just wanted to continue doing that. I’ve been coaching college ever since,” said Blevins. He has observed some changes in competitive diving since his collegiate career, but one thing that remains the same is the importance of practice. “The ones that put in more time – they tend to do better. That’s how it always has been,” he said. “It’s fun to know that diving in general is something a lot of people can’t do, that they can’t really wrap their head around. In all honesty, I’d say that half the time I’m on the diving board and I’m going to do this dive, I have no idea how this even works … but I do it, I’ve done them probably 10,000 times by now.” 

Blevins’s last comment centered on the hard work and perseverance that helped him become a medalist. He said, “Just keep with it. If you’ve ever seen me, I don’t have a typical diver body – I look like a football player. If you just work hard at something, just keep up, who knows what you’ll be able to accomplish. I had no idea I was going to be an All-American in college, do a sport I’ve never done before, and I’ve made a career out of it.”

Eric Blevins holds the Honor G flag after wining gold at the FINA World Masters’ Championships.
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