NORMAL — The speed of diver Dana Siverly’s ascension from novice to Pantagraph area record holder can only be called astounding.
However, before we get carried away by the University High School senior’s six-dive score of 255.50 points on Sept. 7, we should consider her 14-year career as gymnast.
When Siverly began to train as a diver the November after her sophomore season on the U High swim team, she was no stranger to flipping and twisting in midair. Twenty-two months later, she's the best in area history.
“My (gymnastics) coaches unknowingly prepared me for my diving career,” quips Siverly, who broke the school and area record of 248.85 points set by Ling Kuhn in 2014.
The night of the record held a double whammy of drama because Siverly’s father, Bryan, had been working out of state, but made it back to watch his daughter soar.
“My dad was pretty ecstatic about it,” said Siverly, whose mother, Dianne, was a U High diver. “He wouldn’t stop talking about it because he was so excited.”
Siverly had targeted the record for that meet at Horton Pool, but was still surprised when she broke it. Her coach was, too.
"I was surprised because I don't do math in my head, but I knew that she was going to be close at some point this year," Michelle Meyer said. "She's really upped her list (of dives). She has refined a couple dives that we were working on last year."
Siverly stacked her list on Sept. 7 with some of her most difficult dives.
“I thought it was a very consistent meet since I was getting around 6s or higher for every dive," she said. "I was really happy with how it was going.”
Irony came after Siverly nailed her final dive, the dreaded reverse one-and-a-half.
“Me and my coach joked about how that’s kind of my least favorite dive,” Siverly said. “I had just gotten it the day before so it was funny my least favorite dive was my best dive.
“I quite like forwards and twisters. I love doing front two-and-a-halves and I really like doing front one-and-a-half full twisters or back one-and-a-half twisters.”
Meyer says her star is quite coachable. Siverly’s repertoire of dives blossomed in the offseason while training with the Redbird Diving Club.
“My coaches, Ben (Eicher) and Phil (Hoffmann), really helped me out,” she said. “They definitely saw the potential in me before I did. It was a new dive kind of summer."
Siverly also benefited from a training camp at the University of Texas at Austin.
Now she is hungry for more big scores.
“I’m hoping to break my own record a couple times this season because I really want to grow,” she said. “One of my goals is to break the 11-dive record (of 428.05 points by Kuhn) as well. The overall goal for the end of my season is I would quite like to make finals at state.”
Siverly placed 25th in the state last year when her best six-dive score was an area-pacing 237.85.
“I’m really working on technique,” she said. “Coming from a gymnastics background, it’s definitely different than diving. They are still similar, but the technique is quite different. I’m really going to work on getting that diver technique because I think that can really put my scores over the top.”