WARSAW – Columbia City High School started its swim program 15 years ago. Assistant Coach Phil Stanczak has been around for nearly all of them.
“In my 14 years of doing this, I’ve never seen that happen,” said Stanczak. “That” being sending an Eagle diver – boy or girl – to the state regional tournament.
That changed Saturday. Lady Eagle diver junior Audrey Gruettert finished in the top four at the Warsaw sectional, advancing her to regionals Tuesday. Gruettert’s 306.7 score placed her in fourth.
“I’m very excited; still kind of in shock,” Gruettert said.
Fifteen years is a long time, but may not seem so long when you consider that Columbia City does not have a diving practice facility. The students experience diving only at live events, or when another school is generous enough to offer its turf should the divers make the trek.
Stanczak takes them when he can. “I take them to Carroll or Homestead to practice once or twice a week. This is really something for us when you consider that,” said Stanczak.
For her first dive, Gruettert performed a reverse dive pike. Gruettert’s second dive – a forward one-and-one-half somersault with one twist, free dive – was quite a bit tougher, as was her third – a back one-and-one-half somersault with a tuck landing.
Though she acknowledged the degree of difficulty of the final two is what brought her score up and allowed her to be the first Eagle diver of any kind to advance to regionals, it was the first dive that stuck in her mind.
“It was one of my worst ones,” Gruettert said afterwards.
Head Coach Kristen Swonger was pleased with Gruettert’s accomplishment, although not completely surprised consider how close the diver got as just a sophomore.
“She missed it by just a little bit last year (she got fifth) so it’s exciting for her. She’s done very well this year,” said Swonger.
Gruettert will head to Mishawake Tuesday to attempt to place in the top eight, which would send her to the state finals.