Abigail Keenan
Laurel Plewe dives on the set of a commercial directed by her brother, Luke Bogner. Plewe conquered her fears after leaving competitive diving for ten years. Today, she teaches the BYU Cougar Club, which teaches diving to kids of all ages. (Abigail Keenan)

Diving into the 2019-20 school year has a completely different meaning for the 12 students on the BYU men and women’s diving teams.

A common struggle among BYU students is balancing school, work, social life, religion and self-care. Athletes deal with these time commitments, while also scheduling practice, meets and time in the training room. 

The diving team spends 20 hours a week in practice and 10 hours in the training room in addition to the regular schedule that full-time students have to deal with.

“Diving is an interesting sport. We say it’s 90% mental and 10% physical, so if all of that 30 hours goes into physical, it means we have to put in hundreds of hours every month just for mental,” junior Morgan Cooper said.

Senior Kaela Call-Harries said she only takes afternoon classes and doesn’t sleep a lot because practice starts at 7 a.m. and ends at noon with an hour break in the middle. For the divers, their team makes the hard work worth it. 

“There are meets, there are championships, there are gold medals, but really in the end, the most important part is the team,” Cooper said. “I think they bring out the best in me, and I like to believe I bring out the best in them. I think they’re the best part of my diving career.”

The BYU dive team is made up of five men and seven women. Last year, it had one senior graduate, so it has one incoming freshman, Summer Westover, for the 2019-20 season.

Senior Nathan Gonzales dives during his junior year. Gonzales placed first in two competitions as a junior. (Ari Davis)

The Cougars are also welcoming their teammate Eric Muir back to the team. Muir was the 2016-2017 MPSF conference champion. He is returning after serving a mission in Mendoza, Argentina.

“Eric Muir is an RM who has a lot of drive to win. He is an incredible spinner that is capable of those Olympic dives,” head coach Tyce Routson said. “Right now, he is a Tasmanian devil, but he will focus on the basics so that he can get those high scores and peak at the right meets.”

After hours of practice and greeting new teammates, members of the BYU diving team are ready to show what they’re made of and invite fans to come to their meets.

“We’re some of the hardest working athletes the school has ever seen, and the team is really incredible. I hope that (fans) can come and see us, and see how hard we work,” Cooper said.

Last year, all of the divers made it to zones. Call-Harries said she is excited to pick up where they left off and continue to improve. Muir’s return and the addition of Westover, who was also recruited by the University of Houston, Texas A&M, the University of Massachusetts and Amherst, opens up promising opportunities for the team’s success this season.

“I’m really excited. I think that there is huge potential. In our team last year, we had a ton of success,” Cooper said. “I’m just looking forward to everyone diving incredibly.”

The Cougars will compete in the Intermountain Shootout, which begins Friday, Oct. 4.

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