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Playing it safe not how Minnetonka diver Hall likes to fall

01/22/2014, 12:06am CST
By Star Tribune

Looking for confidence in Saturday’s Section 6, Class 2A True Team meet, Minnetonka senior diver Taylor Hall went for broke.

Taylor Hall, Minnetonka diving

Looking for confidence in Saturday’s Section 6, Class 2A True Team meet, Minnetonka senior diver Taylor Hall went for broke.

Where others might play it safe, Hall did just the opposite, pulling out his toughest and most difficult dive: a reverse one-and-a-half somersault with 1½ twists.

“I hadn’t been able to practice it in a couple of weeks,” he said. “But I did it in warmups and nailed it, so my coach told me to put it in my pocket and throw it in during the meet.”

He hit on the dive, giving him enough momentum to not only win the meet but set a season-best 11-dive score of 445.70.

“I knew once that dive was over that I was going to have a successful meet,” Hall said.

Staff writer Jim Paulsen spoke with Hall about his ability to jump gracefully into water.


Q: Did you know going in that you would have a good meet?

A: Actually, my very first dive was not one of my best. I made a silly mistake and needed to quickly move past it. When I hit a good dive on my second dive, I knew I was on a roll.


Q: How do you shake off a poor opening effort?

A: You have to have mental toughness. I can’t let one bad dive affect me. I take it one dive at a time. Good or bad, nothing can be done to change it, so I focus on the next dive.


Q: What else does it take to be a good diver?

A: Physical strength. I do a lot of flexibility work and stretching when I prepare. We have dry boards, where we practice somersaults and land on a mat. We use trampolines also and sometimes head over to the gymnastics gym to go on the tumbling tracks.


Q: How did you start diving?

A: Growing up, my main sport was soccer, but I always had an ambition to do gymnastics. But when my parents sent me to gymnastics camps, I got too nervous and introverted. Because of that, I became a self-taught gymnast and eventually it evolved into diving.


Q: Why diving?

A: It sounds weird, but I really enjoy the feeling of falling.


Q: So skydiving and bungee-jumping are in your future?

A: I plan on going skydiving for my 18th birthday. I haven’t had the opportunity to bungee-jump, but I would be up for it.


Q: Do you dive year-round?

A: Yes. I’m also go to the U of M

Diving Academy.


Q: So you must dive off of more than the 1-meter springboard they have in high school meets.

A: Yes. I dive off of a 3-meter springboard and platforms at five, seven and 10 meters.


Q: Which do you prefer?

A: Platform. You don’t have to worry about timing your jumps so much.


Q: What about college?

A: I’m going to be diving at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. When I went on my official visit, I connected with the team and I fell in love with the campus. There was a close bond between the swimmers and divers that they don’t have on a lot of college teams. That really appealed to me.


Q: How do you feel about high school diving?

A: In my first couple of years, I didn’t interact with my team much. I felt like a little fish in a big pond. But over the past two years, I’ve grown really close to my teammates. The team aspect is really strong, and we all want to do our best for each other.


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