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SLAP diving into competition

Lisa Nyren, Record Intern

The Salt Lake Aquatic Program (SLAP) has a lot to be proud this diving season. The program, which teaches and coaches aspiring young divers, culminated its season in July with twelve students competing in the Utah Diving State Championships at Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center in Salt Lake.

Running September through the end of July, SLAP operates two programs, one out of the University of Utah, and one in Park City. The Park City program practices at the Park City Schools Aquatic Center at Ecker Hill Middle School, and it saw 4 students compete in the state championships. Molly Jaeger, Caitlin Owen, Skyler Pettigrew and Esie Cortes represented the Park City SLAP program at Cottonwood.

While proudly listing the SLAP students who made the state championships, Gene McIntyre, SLAP head coach, said a goal of the programs is "to take a child to the highest level that they can compete as long as they’re improving and having fun."

It’s a great opportunity for any child at any level, he said.

SLAP was founded in 1994 to support springboard diving in Utah. It is a non-profit corporation, and registration fees fund SLAP’s diving programs.

SLAP caters primarily to children 18 and under, but the program does see some students return after high school. The 18 and under programs work with children of all ability levels, and no prior diving experience is necessary, said McIntyre.

The program divides students into age groups and ability levels and usually has 10 to 15 students per coach, depending on how many kids register each season.

For the duration of the program, students practice two nights per week and enter competitions approximately every six months, said McIntyre.

"[The program] is a good learning experience because [the students] learn to focus," said McIntyre. "It teaches them hand-eye coordination."

McIntyre and the rest of SLAP’s coaching staff understand the benefits of diving and have devoted themselves to coaching the sport. McIntyre, for example, has 22 years of diving coaching under his belt, including teaching "learn to dive" classes at the University of Miami and serving as the diving coach for the University of South Carolina. He moved on to own and coach the Atlanta Diving Association for over 20 years. McIntyre and his family moved to Salt Lake to work with athletes for the 2002 Olympics, and he has been involved with SLAP for over two years.

After the state championship competition in July, SLAP held a final practice session at the Ecker Hill pool. A semi-informal internal meet amongst SLAP students, the practice served as a final showcase for students to demonstrate to their parents what they learned during this diving season.

"It was a great, great event," said McIntyre about the final practice. "[The parents] can’t wait to do it again," he added.

Neither can many of SLAP’s students. McIntyre said he already has students "lining up left and right" to come back next season.

For more information about the SLAP diving program, visit http://www.slapdiving.org or call (801) 703-4298.


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