MARYSVILLE — Marysville Getchell senior Luis Pineda-Lopez placed second at the 3A district finals at the Snohomish Aquatic Center.
He placed with a state-qualifying score of 307.65 points, but only after enduring some adversity. He placed only fifth in the preliminaries with 202.40 points.
But he didn’t let that get to him at all, dive coach Shauna Kopischka said.
“Luis had a good performance at districts. His last three dives had a high DD [degree of difficulty] and we have been working on them quite a bit at practice,” Kopischka said.
Those dives were the one-and-a-half pike and the reverse two somersaults pike.
“He nailed them and that gave him enough to move from fifth to second,” she added.
As a result he is the Marysville Globe—Arlington Times Athlete of the Week.
“I really tried to focus on executing the dives itself,” Pineda-Lopez said. “I’ve been doing some pretty hard dives that are just in general, you don’t see too often unless you have quite a bit of experience with gymnastics.”
He specializes specializing in the one-and-a-half pike. And “that’s not a dive that kids with no experience can walk up to and get,” she said.
Pineda-Lopez’s start in diving was anything but typical.
Many diving prospects start off quite young and practice in the offseason or have done gymnastics prior. Pineda-Lopez has only dived since he was a sophomore, qualifying for state all three years.
“Luis has always had a great attitude when it comes to diving since he started his sophomore year,” Kopischka said. “For a diver to come in and never have prior experience in gymnastics or diving, Luis has done a supreme job for me.”
Through her past three years coaching at MG, Kopischka hasn’t seen a diver quite like Pineda-Lopez.
“Despite the lack of experience, he has some pretty good innate ability to pick up things quickly,” Kopischka said.
Prior to diving Pineda-Lopez had played other sports, but he said he gets a thrill out of flying in the air that he doesn’t quite get anywhere else.
“The adrenaline rush is what really pumps me to do it,” he said. “I just love to do those flips.”
The appetite for adrenaline started when he went through a breakdance “phase” in middle school.
“I just started to love the tumbling sensation,” he said. “You’re doing things that could potentially hurt yourself and a lot of the rotations and how you have to be precise so you don’t get hurt.”
His friends on the swim team knew this.
“They asked me to come out, and I did,” he said. “And I ended up not being bad at it. I honestly love it now.”
“I honestly didn’t know what diving was prior to going out there,” he said. “I just came out and coach said, ‘I see a lot of potential in you.’ Next thing I’m in state my very first year.”
Pineda-Lopez is hoping to place around 14th this weekend in state at Federal Way.
“It’s like football — any given Sunday,” Kopischka said.
Pineda-Lopez isn’t too keen on diving competitively in college but hopes to continue recreationally.
Pineda-Lopez will also be joined by fellow diver Tyler Dukleth. MG’s other state qualifiers are: 200 medley relay—Thomas Lindgren, John Snider, Nathaniel Ludwig and Connor Demarco; 200 freestyle relay—Joshua James, Ludwig, Snider and DeMarco; 100 butterfly—Snider; 50 freestyle—Ludwig; and 100 freestyle—DeMarco. Marysville-Pilchuck diver Kole Bradley-Kuk also qualified.
“He came out of nowhere as a sophomore that’s only doing three months a year and progressed really well,” she said.