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(Not) making a splash

Emma Diianni ‘25 

Feb 16, 2024

The Blue Storm diving team has been making waves this season. During the first home meet of the season, they defeated the Peddie School. Following their victory against a MAPL rival, they also defeated Malvern Preparatory School (boys) and Notre Dame Academy (girls) and LaSalle College High School (boys) and Mount Saint Joseph’s School (girls).  

Heading into the season, the team welcomed promising new athletes and gritty veterans. Coach Frank Betkowski said, “I expected that Alex [Van Ess ’24] and Luntu [Radebe ’25] would be the divers that they are, which is to say, excellent. 

Betkowski continued, “Solie [Stenger ’25] came in with experience, and some of my new divers or newer divers have made some really good progress. Avery Liu [’25], Ali Young [’26] and Bruce Joyner [’25] didn't have any experience.  And Anouk Wandlerdidn’t compete at all last year. They'll all go to Easterns which I think is a great accomplishment.” 

Compared to last year, the diving team has grown in number, especially on the girls side. “There are a lot more people,” said Van Ess. Betkowksi added, “I actually have a hard time making a lineup because I have too many girls for most meets.” 

The challenges that the team faced were numerous breaks and unexpected injuries throughout the season. Betowski said, “Between holidays and long weekends and injuries and illnesses, I really haven't had to make that very difficult decision.” 

Despite these setbacks, the divers are staying positive and supportive of each other as they push forward toward the last weeks of the season. Liu said, “ I feel like the team is really good at supporting each other, especially when we go away to meets.” 

This team dynamic is helping out the team a lot, particularly in away contests. Van Ess said, “It's a lot more fun and interesting, because there's a lot more people to talk with and people to hype you up and you get really excited about diving.” 

The team’s goal for the tournament is, as it has always been, to win collectively. Betkowski said, “I would love for my divers to place well [at the MAPL meet]. I don't want to jinx us, but we have a chance at winning both the boys and girls events.” 

The diving team achieved their goal at the MAPL Championship which was held at the Lawrenceville School. Girls diving placed first as Radebe, Stenger, and Liu finished second, third, and fourth, respectively. Boys diving also placed first as Van Ess repeated as the individual champion; Joyner placed third. 

To prepare for championship meets, each diver practiced to achieve eleven dives as it is a requirement to compete. Avery Liu ‘25 said, “We also have been focusing on form and our takeoffs, which is when we exit the board…. we try our best so it works.” 

Looking ahead, the team has ambitious goals for the Eastern Interscholastic Swimming and Diving Championships. Betkowski said, “Our focus is always Easterns. Everything we do is in preparation for Easterns.” 

Van Ess added, “My main goal is to place in the top five in Easterns. I want to finish the meet and be satisfied. Like that, I put in my best effort and did my best diving.”


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