Two young athletes from Bridgwater and Tuxedo are diving into one of Canada’s top competitions.
Attila Bernatsky, 16, and Adam Cohen, 17, are headed to Diving Canada’s winter senior national championships for the first time. They will compete in Saskatoon, Sask., from April 8 to 10.
"I’m pretty nervous," said Bernatsky. "Going up against those bigger divers is pretty scary. Olympians, they’re going to be there, so it’ll be a new experience."
The Bridgwater resident said despite his jitters, he’s excited for the opportunity.
"This is my first time, so it’s definitely a learning experience. It’ll be just be great to see those bigger divers and learn from them," Bernatsky said.
Bernatsky said he’s been diving for about eight or nine years, ever since a friend turned him on to it. After that, he was hooked.
"I like the adrenaline of being on those taller boards… and I like doing all those flips," he said.
Bernatsky said he takes pride in his ability to spin fast off the diving board, allowing him to get in the flips and twists necessary for a top-tier diver, and he said his clean entries into the water are also a strong point in his diving.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, training has been a bit unusual for Bernatsky and Cohen. They’ve had to do online workouts and dry-land training.
While both divers said these practices were crucial to keeping them sharp, Cohen said it wasn’t always easy.
"For a long time we were just doing these Zoom practices from our houses. That was obviously not as fun as the real thing, so at times, it was difficult to stay motivated," Cohen said.
The Tuxedo resident said their coach made a concerted effort to tell them that the dry-land work they put in would help them at the pool.
"And now that we’ve returned to the water, I think we’ve all seen those benefits, and we’re all a lot better than we were before. I’m glad I stuck it through, even though it wasn’t the most entertaining thing," he said.
Now, heading into his first senior nationals competition, Cohen is eager to put those improved skills up against some of the country’s best.
"I feel really excited because I’ll be facing the most experienced competition I’ve faced. It’ll be my toughest competition, so I’m going to use it as an opportunity to gain more experience competing in such an intense environment," he said.
While Cohen admitted to some nervousness, he felt like being so young and new to this calibre of competition, that he was "going in with nothing to lose." Rather, he only had experience to gain.
Cohen said his takeoffs from the diving board are a particular strength. He’s able to jump high into the air, which puts him in a good position to set up the rest of his dive.
Cohen said his goal for this year is to learn from this experience and translate it into a gold medal in the one- or three-metre dive at the junior national competition.
Cody Sellar is the reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review West. He is a lifelong Winnipegger. He is a journalist, writer, sleuth, sloth, reader of books and lover of terse biographies. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 204-697-7206.