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    Clubs dive into work to improve their sport


    © St. Petersburg Times, published January 27, 2001

    Opportunities for learning the sport of diving are available throughout the area. Whether at the novice or competitive level, divers may choose from several sources for training in twists, flips and pikes.

    Some diving clubs that have enjoyed success are Dunedin, Clearwater Aquatic and Suncoast.

    Terry Gumz heads a a club that's part of the Dunedin Recreation Division. The former Indiana high school champion strives to give back to a sport that gave him much satisfaction.

    "Diving has evolved into a totally different sport from when I competed," said Gumz, 65.

    "In my time, there was no way to achieve the height of today's dives. As a result, the number of dives possible has increased significantly," he said.

    Gumz, who was a diver at the University of Indiana, says today's divers are better athletes overall and spend more time on the sport.

    "When I read about Sarah Close from Dunedin not having a coach, I called her to see if I could help and give back to the sport in some way," Gumz said.

    Close is a sophomore diver for the Florida Gators.

    Just a little over a year ago, the Clearwater Aquatic Team (CAT) expanded its program to include diving. Gina Germano, a former diver at St. Bonaventure, came on board to help CAT.

    "We basically have three levels of divers," said Germano, who coaches the sport at Countryside High School. "We work with each in their development whether at the novice, intermediate and advanced."

    Starting from scratch and building a program with about 30 regular divers, Germano guided them to a competitive level.

    In last year's Sunshine State Games, firsts were earned by Kaila Johnston, Colleen Sears, Janice Haramis, Ryan Schomberg and Cody Dodds.

    "Kaila just missed zone competition by a couple of places last year," Germano said. "We're working on finding those places this year."

    Dodds, who turned to diving after training in gymnastics, has advanced from the intermediate level to the advanced and is expected to make it to zonals this season.

    The Suncoast Diving Club has a long history in the area. Led by former Suncoast diver David Anderson, the club retained about 30 divers at the completion of the season.

    "I learned the laid-back approach when dealing with the kids from Barb Dudeck with Suncoast," said Anderson, 40.

    "When I was at the University of North Carolina, I learned all about the technical aspects of diving. In my coaching, I try to use a balance of both."

    In an invitational in Orlando last month, Lauren Permuy, Rachel Edwards, Eric Nguyen, Caitlyn Calderbank, Amanda Smolen and Alex Telbrook each won their respective events.

    Meggie Dougherty-Howard, 5, was first in three-meter competition for 7-and-under novice divers and third in the one-meter. Her eight-year-old sister, Kelsey, scored impressive firsts in Junior Olympic one-meter and three-meter events.

    "We had Ryan Troup make it to nationals and a few that barely missed the cutoff for zonals,"' Anderson said.

    GYMNASTICS: LaFleur's Gymnastics of Largo members and the Tampa Bay Turners in St. Petersburg traveled to Las Vegas, Nev., for this month's Lady Luck Invitational.

    From LaFleur's was Briana Melander, who finished second all-around, and Kelly Hyland, eighth in Level 7. The Turners' Megan Sutter placed first all-around in Level 7 and Lindsey Brown was first in Level 4.

    Finishing second were Katie Bennett and Lindsay Weber, Level 7A, Heather Jennings, Level 8A, Lauren Bernloehr, Level 10B, and Lara Straub and Jenny Citrin, Level 8B.

    TENNIS: Marc Sawyer of Largo qualified for the team that will represent the U.S. in this summer's 16th World Maccabiah Games in Israel. Open and junior players will compete July 7-27 to celebrate Jewish unity, culture and heritage through athletic competitions.

    SKIING: Christina Dicus won the Holiday Giant Slalom in North Carolina and was second on two other giant slalom races. Dicus, 16, is No. 1 in the USSA Southern Division JI-JII in slalom, giant slalom, super-G and downhill.

    SOFTBALL: The 14-and-under Clearwater Bullets won their second Independent Softball Association (ISA) Winter World Series.

    Two years ago, the team captured the title in the 12-and-under division.

    Earlier this month, Clearwater eliminated last year's runner-up, the Indiana Magic, 5-4 in extra innings to reach the quarterfinal round with Tampa Mustang-Red.

    In a come-from-behind effort, Dani Hofer hit a home run to tie the game and Natalie Bale ripped a double to score Kristina Hilberth and Ashley Arcuri for the victory.

    In the final against the defending champions, the Intimidators, Clearwater rallied with hits from Hofer, Stephanie Seaman and Ally Maddox. Seaman, Jennifer Jacobs and Arcuri drove in runs for a 5-3 win.

    SWIMMING: Clearwater Aquatics Team (CAT) played host to 20 clubs and 800 swimmers in the Winter Invitational this month at the Long Center. CAT finished first. Its high-point performances were produced by Patrick Davis, senior boys division, and Jose Crescimbeni, 10-and-under boys.

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