SHERIDAN — Enter the pool at the Sheridan Junior High School where the Lady Broncs train for high school competition and you will hear the sound of the water churning as the swimmers stare at the line of the bottom of the pool, swimming laps for hours, adding distance each day. The monotonous noise is periodically interrupted by the sound of a diver entering the water.
While the swimmers are tracking the same line, bouncing between the walls of the pools, Maggie Moseley and Alicia Thoney practice their aerial acrobatics, perfecting their dives leading up to the state meet.
The two Lady Broncs divers have already qualified for the state meet, an event about which sophomore Moseley is excited. Thoney, a senior, qualified in the first swim meet of the season. She said once you qualify it takes some weight off her shoulders and allows her to focus on perfecting dives.
“The beauty of diving is that the more you do it, the easier it is going to get,” Thoney said. “You figure out the control and where you are in the air. slowly get it to what it should look like.”
For the duo, it is about building the muscle memory, allowing the turns and twists in the air to feel natural, not overthinking a new dive.
“When I learn a new dive I have to tell myself ‘you just have to do it’ because my mind is not going to understand what it is supposed to do but my body will,” Moseley said. “It is mind over matter.”
It is about building trust and understanding how much momentum the body has. Thoney said they need to take into account the force needed to get the body to flip and end in the correct position or understanding the extra force a twist adds to the dive.
“Once you figure out a dive it is like Maggie was saying, you have to trust your body,” Thoney said. “It is muscle memory and your body knows what to do.”
The divers do not immediately get on the board and attempt a dive. When they first learn a new dive, Thoney and Moseley will first attempt the dive on a trampoline while strapped into a harness with a spotter. This provides safety and allows the girls to practice the dives in a more controlled environment.
To help the diver control their bodies through the air, Moseley and Thoney will have their own separate workout in the morning from those of the swimmers, focusing on building their core strength.
“We focus a lot on our core,” Moseley said. “We take Tabata and cycling and we will start taking kickboxing, not a lot of weight training.”
Tabata is a form of high intensity interval training. The afternoons are spent on the diving board and trampoline, practicing the dives.
“It is all about your body control,” Thoney said. “If you are flopping around in the air, that does not look good. The strength comes from your core and that is how you pull your divers together and make your dives look sharp.”
Right now, the divers are working on improving their dives to receive a higher score.
“It is a lot of working on the little things,” Thoney said. “Making sure your toes are always pointed and making sure you are getting higher. Making sure you are nicely tucked up and tight. That is what it comes down to if you are looking to score in those top places. It is the difference between a five and a half and a seven. You want to be at the top of the range to be successful at bigger meets.”
Moseley started her diving career in the sixth grade after some of her friends convinced her to join the swim team. She had no experience with tumbling, flips or diving in general.
“I remember my first day we learned an approach off the board and our coach told us to go and do a dive,” Moseley said. “I was like ‘what is a dive?’ I had to learn everything.”
Now Moseley is competing at the 4A level working her way into the top 10 in many events. During the Sheridan Invite Sept. 28, she finished ninth against most of the 4A competition she will see at state. Thoney finished seventh in the competition and continues to compete for a top spot. In the most recent dual against Thunder Basin, Campbell County and Newcastle high schools, Thoney won the diving portion and Moseley finished third.
Thoney also had little experience in diving when she joined the team during her freshman year, with some peer pressure from her family and fellow senior Zoe Robison.
“I always really loved gymnastics and doing flips on the trampoline,” Thoney said. “Zoe said ‘Alicia come dive’. I said ‘OK, I will try it out’ and I fell in love with it.”
Thoney was the only diver for her first two seasons, allowing her to have plenty of one-on-one time with the diving coach, Wendy Vigil.
“Since I started out as a straight beginner my freshman year, it was probably kind of nice to have the one-on-one experience, but now that I am more experienced having someone to dive with is way better,” Thoney said.
Now the two divers enjoy the sport and the uniqueness of it.
“I like that it is a lot different than other sports,” Moseley said. “It is a different way of exercise, it is not really strength or not really cardio.”
Besides the fun of soaring through the air and working with great coaches, the divers enjoy spending time with the swimmers. Sheridan is a small team compared to many other teams in the state; that size has allowed for a tight-knit team and a team that supports each other.
“Just having all of these girls you can count on and that are going to be there for us, that is really nice,” Moseley said.
The Lady Broncs will travel to Casper to compete against Kelly Walsh and Natrona County high schools Oct. 12.