M-P divers visit China

 - Courtesy photo
— image credit: Courtesy photo

This February I had the opportunity of a lifetime to travel to China and immerse myself in the culture that lies there. This lucky opportunity came about after the state championship meet for girls swim and dive, this past fall season. I am a sophomore diver at Marysville-Pilchuck High School.

I was excited about this trip the day I got the letter, and luckily, with support (financially and emotionally) my family and friends helped me get on my way. This was, to say the least, a new experience for me. Traveling wasn't the new thing, but being on my own for 12 days was and luckily one of my teammates, Marysa Eastman, was able to join me. We left Seatac on Feb. 17 and traveled to Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Xi'an and finally Beijing. (That isn't including our layovers, to and from, in Korea.)

The most exciting and educational experience, for me, was the diving. All the diving took place in Guangzhou and as I stepped into the pool I was astounded. There were at least seven springboards and even more platforms that these children, much younger than me, dove from. I was speechless. After getting a sneak peek at the pool we went downstairs into this dry-land diving gym where we would meet our Chinese coach. (We later found out that she was a national champion.) To set the scene, there were eight diving boards and three netted trampolines. I couldn't wait to get started because for me, this was familiar territory having done gymnastics previously for eleven years. The younger Chinese divers gave us encouragement as we boldly tried to do what they have been trained to do forever. After getting the hang of it, none of us wanted to leave and at the last day of practice, we knew how lucky we were to be in that facility with those people.

The Terra Cotta warriors were stunning and Tiananmen Square was a sight, but absolutely nothing compared to the Great Wall of China. Pictures can't even express how beautiful this place is and I had no idea what to expect. I wish we would have had time to do the five-mile loop, but unfortunately extra time was rare and we just got to walk up and down for about an hour and a half. It was still definitely a workout and we enjoyed every minute of it. Once we got to the top of our journey we did handstands up there to commemorate our hike. The view was breathtaking and I know I'll remember it forever.

This experience has been truly unforgettable. I have a much deeper appreciation for diving and even more drive to be successful in the sport. I also know that we live in this huge world and it's up to us to discover it. I can't wait for my next international trip.

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