Arnold Senior Divers Making 7th Combined Regionals Trip

Published: Oct. 22, 2023 at 6:01 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - “Honestly, that means their hard work has paid off. It’s sometimes really hard to see that the foundation you’re laying in July and August are going to pay dividends in October and November and that, I think is probably the most exciting thing. Not only the swimmers but also the divers, we’ve got a couple divers that are first year divers, you know what I mean, and the fact that they qualified for regionals first time out of the gate is amazing”, said Arnold Head Swim and Dive Coach Jennifer Morgan.

But it’s not just the newbies making a big splash, a couple of the vets, like seniors Sydnie Caldwell and Connor Kilpatrick have made the trip to regionals an annual thing. Sydnie, the past 3 years... Connor, the past 4.

“It’s very rewarding. It’s showed how much I’ve worked and I’ve put so much effort into all of my dives and all of my dives in practice and all of my hours in practicing and it pays off for sure”, said Sydnie.

“Relieving because I know some people that have dove and have made it to regionals, don’t make it again and that’s very frustrating, especially from an athlete’s stand point. I think making it all 4 years is amazing, like I can say I’ve made it all 4 years”, said Connor.

Don’t get it twisted, just because they’ve been there, done that, doesn’t mean the competition is a breeze. They’ve still got to get there and do that.

“Some dives it’s very chill and very relaxed, and then others you kind of have a little bit anxiety before you go and do it, but once it’s over it’s next dive, next dive, next dive and it just happens”, said Connor.

With the level of experience both girls are heading into this week with, I asked if there are any changes they’re still making to their routine or are they just sticking with the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” method. In short, they said the grind doesn’t stop.

“I’m focusing on increasing my dive difficulty, helping me to increase the points I get with each dive. I’m working on all of my technique and form on each of my dives, down to my pointed toes and straight arms and every little detail like that, trying to get more points, trying to climb higher”, said Sydnie.

By “climb higher”, Sydnie is referring to the podium at states. Both Sydnie and Connor have come close to a state ring but they just haven’t been able to reach the top of the mountain but each season their determination to finish at the top gets stronger and stronger.

“Part of being a competitor is putting a lack of perfection behind you and focusing on the new target in front of you. Like, I’m just so proud of both of them, that they’ve put in the work with Coach Dana and they’re getting the opportunity to prove to themselves and the community, how amazingly talented they are”, said Coach Morgan.