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The Scarlet & Black

Bruce dives into Grinnell history with no splash

By Hayes Gardner

By winning both diving events at the dual-meet against Loras College on Nov.19, Kelly Bruce ‘12 was awarded Midwest Conference Women’s Swimming and Diving Performer of the Week, adding to her already lengthy résumé.

Now in her fourth year, Bruce has accomplished just about everything she can as a Pioneer diver.  She is a three-time MWC champion in both the one-meter and three-meter diving competitions, is a three-time MWC Diver of the year, holds the school records for both events, was an All-American and qualifier for the NCAA Division III National Championships in 2011.

Photograph by Mary Zheng.

Despite all of her accolades, Bruce didn’t start out as a successful diver.

“I was pretty bad,” she said. “I wasn’t much of a natural athlete”.

She first started diving at the age of eight and though she wasn’t immediately talented, continued due to her affection for the sport and environment in which she dove.

“Once you get into it, it’s kind of addictive…the feeling of flipping through the air is unbelievable,” Bruce said.

She kept diving as she got older and became more competitive in her high school years.

“I enjoyed the people I was diving with.  I enjoyed the atmosphere.  I think that’s probably why I stuck with it,” she said.

In the same way, Bruce’s favorite aspect of diving at Grinnell is the tight-knit, “collaborative” group with whom she competes.

“At Grinnell, the people are just amazing,” She said. “We’re not just individuals swimming, we’re a team.”

Bruce loves being a part of the team and supporting each other in practice and meets.

“[Practice] is something that you enjoy. It’s a part of your day you’re looking forward to and a part of the day that a lot of people on the team are looking forward to,” she said.

This atmosphere has helped Bruce transform from an outstanding diver in her first-year, to an even better one today.  Head Coach Erin Hurley noted Bruce’s improvement as a diver, citing specifically her this past year, in which she broke out as an All-American.

“She has really matured.  Coming back from studying abroad her junior year was a turning point for her.  She handled her ups and down better, she was more balanced and patient with her own progress,” Hurley wrote in an e-mail to the S&B.

Hurley also mentioned Bruce’s high work ethic and link to her success

“She demands a lot of herself, both in the pool and in the classroom.  She knows what it takes to get the best performances out of her,” Hurley wrote.

As a senior and the only returning member of the women’s swimming and diving team to make Nationals last year, Bruce inherently possesses some of the team’s leadership.  Hurley believes she handles this role well.

“She is extremely reliable and someone the team can count on to perform well while also being there to support them.  She has a great work ethic and models this behavior for the rest of the team,” Hurley wrote.

Having already accomplished quite a bit, many of Bruce’s goals for the upcoming year concern other divers and the team as a whole.

Bruce was one of three Grinnell divers to advance to Nationals this past year, the others being Michael Brus ’14 and Imelda Wistey, who transferred after her first year.  Not only does Bruce hope to repeat as a competitor at the national level, but she hopes Brus will as well.  She also believes the team’s talent will bring other swimmers and divers to Nationals this year.

“I’d love to see some more people to get that opportunity,” she said.

As far as personal goals go, Bruce realizes this is her final season of collegiate diving and wants to make the most of it.

“My goals are to try the hardest dives that I can possibly do, just to have those as part of my diving career to look back on,” Bruce said.

“I hope she is able to repeat at Nationals this year.  It would be a great way to send her out,” Hurley wrote.

No matter how her career ends, some things will remain unchanged: Bruce has already pieced together a dazzling career and she has a simple love for the sport.

“I have a lot of fun with it.  It’s a goofy sport.  While you’re practicing, you can totally make up your own tricks or play around like you would if you were still a ten year-old at your friend’s outdoor pool.  It’s kind of like getting to play every day and call it a sport,” Bruce said.

Bruce, along with the rest of the Grinnell Swimming and Diving team will complete this weekend in the Pioneer Classic this Friday and Saturday, Dec. 1-2, taking place at Grinnell’s own Russell K. Osgood Pool.  Events kick off at 6 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. on Saturday.

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