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Trampoline gives Owl-divers a bounce

Always looking to give his athletes a jump on the competition, Keene State College Swim coach Jack Fabian recently reached into his bag of tricks and pulled a trampoline out onto the deck at the Spaulding Gym Pool.

Fabian, the same coach who has his swimmers putting on boxing gloves and doing assorted rope drills to build strength, felt the trampoline would be the perfect cross-training equipment for his fledging diving program.

Trampoline training is nothing new for the KSC divers. Over the years, KSC diving coach Dave Mason and his athletes bounced around the gym, looking for an adequate place to put up the trampoline. “In the past, we used to beg, borrow, and steal for space,” said Mason, who has served as the Owls’ diving coach for six seasons. “The problem is – it’s such a huge piece of equipment, and moving it from place to place is very difficult and tiring.”

That changed this year when Fabian decided to give the trampoline a permanent home on the pool deck. Not only has it facilitated training for Mason and his divers, but helped bring the team together. “In the past, the divers were isolated,” said Fabian. “We feel there’s a better chance of growing the program if we keep the swimmers and divers together.”

”It’s an awesome training tool,” said Mason, who can now monitor athletes on the board and tramp at the same time. “If the divers aren’t getting the concept, I can take them over to the tramp. It’s a nice one-two combination.”

The advantages of training on the trampoline are apparent. While Mason can espouse its virtues with a quick physics lesson, he simply calls it an honesty maker that can help divers work on their approach and assorted twist and turns without getting wet. “The trampoline makes them stand up more, and it makes them that much more precise of their take-offs,” he said. “Hopefully, it carries over to the diving board.”

The trampoline has drawn rave reviews from Keene State divers. “I haven’t been on a trampoline since gymnastics, so it’s nice to be back on it again,” said Shannon Summers, a freshman from Keene, who was the State Division I champion as a senior while competing at Keene High School. “You can warm-up; take a few jumps, and then you’re ready to go to the board. It’s a good transition.”

“You can simulate a dive real well,” said Josh Tuller, a junior from Plainview, N.Y. “It’s the same flexibility as a diving board. On the trampoline you want to take your dives straight up so your feet go up and your hips land exactly where your feet were, as opposed to the board where, if you take the dive straight up, the board will push you to a safe distance away. That way, you’ll do the dive properly and get a really good score.”

The trampoline training has already paid dividends for Owl divers. Both Kelly Gilmore, who has been recognized as the Little East Freshman Diver of the Week on five occasions, and Summers finished in the top four in the one- and three-meter event at the conference championship, while Tuller, who earned All-New England honors last season, is on the brink of earning a berth to the nationals.

“The tramp has been a huge asset for Shannon with twisters and Kelly with her inward one and a halves,” said Mason. “They should definitely be top six at the New Englands if they put their degree of difficulty together.”

Meanwhile, Tuller has set the board high, looking to become the first male diver at KSC to earn an NCAA berth. “This year, I’ve increased the difficulty of my dives a lot,” said Tuller. “I think it’s a realistic goal to make nationals if I can do those dives as well as I know I can.”

Stocking the pool with national-caliber swimmers, Fabian and Mason have now set their sights on increasing the Owls’ talent on the board. “There’s no reason why we can’t have a strong swimming and diving program,” said Fabian. “We just have to bring kids in, retain them, and give them what they need to try to compete at that level. If we can get divers to nationals, then we’re really scoring points.”

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