Austyn Lewis returns to Biola as Biola’s only male diver
Lewis returns with a little help from his friends
Male diver Austyn Lewis is entering his junior year at Biola in a cloud of uncertainty. With his financial aid award coming up short and a lack of an athletic scholarship, Lewis was faced with the daunting possibility of having to leave the school he loved. But in a miraculous 24-hour time span leading up until the deadline for final registration, a persistent group of friends collected $4,200 by asking for donations through a Facebook group, the exact amount needed to keep Lewis at Biola.
“I couldn’t really believe this actually happened and I am still taken aback by it,” Lewis said.
Lewis now enters his second year of competitive diving here at Biola, and under slightly different circumstances this time around. Lewis is the only male representative on the three-person squad, and as Lewis describes, the situation has its pros and cons.
“Although I wish I had another guy to dive with, to push me and compete with and against me, the girls on the team are great,” Lewis said. “I do think I am able to concentrate more and not compare myself with another guy, but I do miss having another guy to practice and compete with.”
Last season, Lewis did have that guy to practice and compete with, Derek Gutierrez, who was responsible for introducing him to diving the year after Lewis left the track and field team.
“I was left without a sport to do,” Lewis said. “I grew up loving competition so I wanted to continue that but I didn't know how that would happen.”
Still new to the sport, Lewis excels in diving
Gutierrez’s suggestion made it happen, and Lewis is back in competitive sports, and excelling, too. After only diving for just over a year, Lewis qualified for nationals at Saturday’s Azusa Pacific University dual-meet with a score of 243.5 on the three-meter board, a success which Lewis credits to his practice time between meets.
“At my first dive meet I was able to see where I was at in terms of throwing a complete list and getting a score for it,” he said. “After that meet I had three weeks of just practice and in that time I worked on nailing my dives so I could reach the national qualifying score and it worked.”
Despite carrying a higher confidence off the one-meter board, it was his three-meter board score that qualified him for nationals, though he intends on qualifying for both.
“I wasn't expecting to qualify on three-meter before one-meter because I feel that I’m stronger on one-meter,” Lewis said. “As for the rest of the season I’d like to qualify for one-meter nationals and continue to progress in learning new dives.”
Lewis tasked with carrying more weight on the team
Lewis’ high ambition comes not just from his competitive spirit, but also from his sense of responsibility to represent his team accordingly. With no other males on the team, Lewis feels obligated to learn dives that would presumably be done by his other male teammates.
“I have to be self-motivated a little more and push myself to try new dives that no one else on my team is trying,” he said.
Lewis and his two teammates, sophomore Vanessa Joeckel and junior Melinda Smith, will get another chance to qualify for nationals on Nov. 12 when they travel to the University of Redlands for the Bulldog Invitational.