Top diver leads team with award-winning efforts

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    By Julie Murdock

    BYU diver Kelli Einfeldt has a secret strategy for staying at the top of the collegiate diving world.

    “I love the Dixie Chicks,” she said. “If I don”t have the Dixie Chicks, I don”t dive as well.”

    It has taken more than inspiration from the Dixie Chicks, however, for Einfeldt to emerge as a top competitor in the Mountain West Conference this season.

    “She”s always up early and works out like a maniac,” said Cami Hakes, 20, a sophomore from Gilbert, Ariz. majoring in elementary education and Einfeldt”s roommate.

    In addition to leading the team on the diving boards, Einfeldt is team captain, a scholar athlete and maintains a grade point average of 3.5.

    “Kelli has stepped into the role of leader as a sophomore, both as a diver and in her work ethic,” said head diving coach Keith Russell. “She”s out there performing and working out, and people can follow that.”

    Einfeldt got her athletic start at the age of three in gymnastics, doing somersaults and handstands before joining a club team in Bountiful, Utah.

    But gymnastics fizzled after a move to California where her parents could not afford the higher cost of hiring a coach.

    “I was lost for awhile,” Einfeldt said. “When you spend every single day doing gymnastics two to four hours a day, you don”t really have a life.”

    After trying soccer, trampoline, flute and trumpet, Einfeldt settled on diving.

    “I begged my mom for months and months and she wouldn”t put me in diving because she knew that I was going to be good at it,” Einfeldt said. “She didn”t want to have to take me to practice every day and do all that stuff.”

    From there, Einfeldt”s diving career took off and eventually led her to BYU. After a shaky freshman year, Einfeldt said she underwent a “transformation” when everything in her life just clicked.

    “This year has just been amazing because I started off fresh and ready, just diving really well,” she said.

    The year has been so amazing that she has been honored as MWC female diver of the week three times this season.

    Einfeldt also scored a personal record in November at the USC Invitational and won the Arizona Invitational last month.

    “That was the biggest leap in the history of diving, as far as I”m concerned,” Russell said. “To go from where she was last year to 4th place in the USC Invitational and then again to win at the Arizona Invitational is unbelievable.”

    Russell said he expects Einfeldt to be in the hunt for the conference title in the upcoming MWC Championships from Feb. 14-17.

    Einfeldt said she cannot take all the credit for her successes this season.

    “I couldn”t do it by myself. The Lord has blessed me with amazing friends,” she said. “It”s interesting how life works out to help you get through the hardest parts, then you”re blessed with the wonderful times that life gives you.”

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