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The Daily Tar Heel

Three diving Tar Heels will compete in Olympic trials next week

Two of the three divers, Elissa Dawson and Jack Nyquist, are current student-athletes and members of North Carolina’s diving team. The third, Michole Timm, graduated from UNC in 2015.

All three are competing in the three-meter springboard.

UNC diving coach Abel Sanchez said the three Tar Heels have a chance at making it into one of the top two spots required to qualify for the Olympic Team.

“Anyone that’s in the meet has a shot,” he said. “If you’re in the stands, you’re just a spectator, if you’re out on the board, then you have a shot and anything is possible.”

Dawson agreed.

“There are so many variables that go into a competition that, from day to day, the place that you get could change.” she said.

In Sanchez’s three years as UNC’s head diving coach the team has continued to improve.

Nyquist credits Sanchez’s unique coaching style, which emphasizes mental toughness, for the team’s success.

“We’ll be practicing and he’ll just stop to simulate situations,” Nyquist said. “Like sometimes we’ll be walking down the floor and he’ll just stop us and be like, ‘Oh, sorry, there’s a baby crying, time to redo your dives.’”

Sanchez’s focus on the mental side has brought success to UNC’s diving team, much like it did in his stint as the diving coach at New Mexico.

Timm was a diver at New Mexico, but transferred and followed Sanchez to UNC. Sanchez said she has a real chance at making the team.

“I always thought this was going to be her year,” he said.

Sanchez expects Dawson to compete for one of the top two spots in the trials as well.

“I’ve been diving since I was young,” Dawson said. “And I remember when I was eight, going to the Olympic Trials to watch and I looked up to so many of the divers that I was watching, and I never imagined that I, one day, would also be competing at the Olympic Trials — so for me it’s just an absolute blessing to be there.”

Nyquist, a rising senior who’s spent his entire college career under Sanchez, said he’d be elated to make the Olympic team.

“It’d be a dream come true,” Nyquist said.

But just because it’s a dream doesn’t mean he thinks it’s out of his reach.

“There are probably only like two (divers in the competition) that I haven’t beaten, just in my career, so it’s fun having that confidence, like, to know that I can do it,” Nyquist said.


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