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Kelso seniors Genna Aldrich and Shayla Kazensky had no idea what they were getting themselves into.

After transitioning from gymnastics to swim and dive, the two Lassies have made a successful transition, but it hasn’t been without some bumps and bruises.

“I was told I was going to be diving,” Kazensky said. “So I finish swim practice and was like, ‘Yay, I get to go home.’ And then they told me, ‘No, you have diving.’”

For 90 minutes a day, every day, after a two-hour swim practice.

“I had no idea what it entailed until I started diving,” Kazensky said.

Aldrich had a better idea, since her mom is one of the coaches, but it didn’t make it any easier.

“I just didn’t realize how difficult and tiring it was going to be,” Aldrich said. “If you do it wrong, you get bruises on your arms or your shins or your back. If you do it right, you go all the way to the bottom and you kick the bottom of the pool.”

The tandem have felt their fair share of flops against the water’s surface, their backs, fronts, and sides creating claps which usher oohs from the rest of the team. But that’s not the only difference between gymnastics, diving and swimming

“Diving is just as hard (as swimming) in a different way. Swimming is more physically hard and diving is more mentally hard,” Kazensky said. “The biggest difference for me is that you’re flipping at water and not a mat. That’s the hardest part, getting over the fear of going off a diving board and hitting water and not having the potential of landing on the mat.”

Kazensky and Aldrich originally met at Gymnastics 4 U, and built a foundation for diving. They battled the fear of leaving the diving board, and are now among the team’s best divers.

“We are used to using the board instead of riding all the way up,” Aldrich said. “And with our landings, we’re used to anticipating the landing and sticking it.”

Having “air sense” is the same, the two said, and having experience in gymnastics has been a boost to their experience diving. You need to maintain similar form, and a straight face.

Competing against yourself instead of another person, though, is a major shift and creates a significant change in the mental aspect.

The physical and mental challenge remains the same.

“A lot of people come in thinking it’s swimming and it’s easy,” Aldrich said. “Then they come in and it’s just the hardest thing they’ve done and can’t get through one workout.

“With diving, a lot of people think it’s just flipping off a diving board, but it’s really knowing where you are and getting past the fears.”

The friendship that the two built in gymnastics has carried over, and so have the bumps and bruises. They wouldn’t have it any other way.

“The best part of being a swimmer and a diver,” Aldrich said, “is the way we support each other and cheer each other on.”

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Sports Reporter

Jason is a journeyman sports reporter who has covered the Golden State Warriors, Oakland A's, along with a heavy emphasis on the Oakland Raiders. He comes to Cowlitz County from Oakland, Calif. and is a loving father.

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