Photo courtesy of Rachel Jordan.
It’s easy to lose yourself in the acrobatic maneuver that delivers a diver from from takeoff to splashdown. The subtle grace and immense power generated by these athletes amid flips, twists, and turns is what makes diving a sport unlike any other.
Aquatics have long been a part of the Chamblee High School sports scene, and one member of this year’s dive team consistently sought to push her parameters in the pool. Senior diver Rachel Jordan developed a passion for the sport at a young age and has since seen that passion grow into a talent powerful enough to captivate college coaches.
“My brother really inspired me. I follow everything that he does, and he was diving first, so I just kind of followed him and started to dive too,” said Jordan.
From summer league to club, and now to high school, diving has taken Jordan to new heights in her life, peaking in her senior year.
“I actually dove for the Atlanta Dive Association from seventh grade until now,” said Jordan. “I dove […] in summer league, but […] high school was the first time I dove competitively.”
Jordan has been perfecting her craft for some time now, and after years of hard work and dedication, she has developed meaningful results at the scoring table.
“I’ve gotten a lot better. My freshman year, I really only had a few dives in each position. Now I have four dives in each position and I received a score of 297 at my last meet, which is my highest score in the past four years. So yeah, I am improving,” said Jordan.
Her recent success garnered interest from multiple colleges, eventually landing her a scholarship to dive at Howard University in Washington, D.C. this coming fall.
“It’s kind of surreal because honestly I was not trying to dive at the collegiate level, but [Howard] found me and wanted to recruit me for diving. And it worked out because that was my top school anyways. I’ve always wanted to go there, and I still can’t even really believe it,” said Jordan.
But as any athlete knows, it takes more than just your talents to achieve goals. A proper support system provides physical, mental, and emotional stability after a tough loss or substantial injury, and throughout the season, Jordan turned to those she practiced alongside everyday after school.
“My favorite part about diving here at Chamblee really was just being with my teammates Max [Stephens] and Emi [McCollum] because I just talked a lot with them every day. They helped me out, were really encouraging, and basically kept me sane during the season. They are my favorite people ever, and if I didn’t have them, then I don’t know what I would be doing,” said Jordan.
Unfortunately, even in 2019, successful black athletes in predominantly white sports still have to overcome obstacles and break barriers just to prove to others that they belong. Jordan’s path was no different, and in some ways she thrived on other’s skepticism of her abilities.
“I was the only black diver I knew until I was being recruited by Howard, but [mostly] it’s the little things that swimmers around me have said over the years,” said Jordan “They are almost shocked that I am diving and ask so many questions about what I love to do. I feel like these little things have happened all around me, and it can be irritating if you let it get to you.”
Not only has she silenced her doubters, but Jordan has also secured yet another four years to show the world what diving really means to her.
“It feels good to be out of the ordinary. I have played a lot of sports in my life, but diving is really where I found my passion and it is really unique. I really like to excel at things that people don’t think I, or people that look like me, would typically excel at,” said Jordan.
For other young athletes like Jordan, who may not look like their teammates, she kept her advice powerful and persuasive.
“Just keep going,” she said. “If this is something that you really love and that you are really good at, then you should just keep on going no matter what. Don’t let what anyone tells you get in the way of your goals or aspirations.”