MARION - As the prep volleyball season nears the midway point, Cedar Rapids Xavier identified a vital ingredient if the Saints are to retain their No. 1 ranking in Class 4A.
Now is the time to turn up the defense.
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CORALVILLE – As a high school freshman, the physical toll and time commitment of gymnastics caused Andrea Adam to walk away from the mat.
Void of an athletic outlet as a sophomore, Adam’s mother Diane read up on the successes of former gymnasts and suggested a new junior-year endeavor to capitalize on her daughter’s talents and provide the supportive team environment she craved – high school diving.
The transition was quick and successful. Adam joined the Iowa City High girls’ swimming team just before the season began and worked her way to a 10th-place finish at the state diving meet.
Now a senior, Adam is a strong candidate for a championship when the diving portion of the Mississippi Valley Conference girls’ swimming and diving championships begin Thursday at the Coralville Recreation Center.
“It’s awesome,” Adam said. “It feels like you’re just flying through the air. The way you contort your body and when you get an amazing dive you can just rip through the water, then come up to hear the applause. It’s unreal.”
Before joining the Little Hawks last season, Adam prepared for the new venture by working with former University of Iowa diver and gymnast Brad Virkler at Iowa Diving Club. Two more former Hawkeyes –Lauren Kelba in 2015 and Samantha Wagner this season – have coached City High diving under head coach Zane Hugo and brought new techniques, different terminology and valued perspective.
“It’s really been a great change,” said Adam, whose go-to dive is a back twister. “I was really able to put to use a lot of leg movement that I was used to in gymnastics. … I really use the back technique from gymnastics and it’s a lot easier to translate that to the pool.”
Adam will join a crowded field of talented divers at the MVC meet, including Cedar Rapids Kennedy senior Jayden Lovell, defending MVC champion Madison Schoppe of Cedar Falls, and the Linn-Mar senior duo of Katie Culver and Brooklyn Corey.
While all are ranked in the state’s top 15 and anxious to earn early points for a strong start in the overall team standings, Adam insists they are a close-knit, competitive fraternity.
“We really support each other, even outside of competition,” Adam said. “They’re honestly great. I consider them teammates, too, because they are just so encouraging and everyone is so uplifting to each other. We really use it to bring out the best in each other.”
The swimming portion of the MVC championships concludes Saturday at the University of Iowa Campus Recreation and Wellness Center in Iowa City.
Cedar Falls has won 23 of the last 24 team titles.
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