After competing in the 2023 Ivy League Swimming and Diving Championships, freshman diver Sadie Howard sat down with The Daily Pennsylvanian to discuss how she got into diving and where she hopes the sport will take her.
1. Can you give a little background on who you are?
My name is Sadie. I am from Vancouver, B.C. I'm on the swim and dive team here at Penn, and I'm a freshman diver. I'm in the College studying psychology and minoring in nutrition.
2. Can you give me a recap of how your Ivy League Championships just went?
It was pretty good. It was a learning experience because I got a concussion in the first week of this semester and I was out for like three weeks, so it was my first big competition [since coming] back. There was definitely a learning curve, and the semester has been really hard, but overall, it was a good meet. I love being with the team, and everyone had a great time — regardless of how we did.
3. What got you interested in diving?
I did gymnastics in fourth grade, and it was at the same rec center as diving, so me and my friend decided to just try it. I did soccer and other sports growing up, and I ended up quitting those, and I've been diving for 10 years now.
4. What made you decide to dive at Penn?
It was definitely the team. Because of COVID-19, I couldn’t visit campus. I was recruiting in 2020 and I would basically just FaceTime people on the team who are now seniors. The whole program and coaches are so supportive — the most out of any school that I talked to.
5. How has the adjustment to diving at the college level been?
It's a lot different. I took a gap year, so I dove and trained throughout my gap year and I also worked. Diving was my main priority, so coming to Penn was a big adjustment as it’s an Ivy, and obviously school is more important than diving — even at the Division I level. So you have to balance prioritizing school while doing well in diving.
6. Can you describe the dynamic amongst the team?
We are very close. The dive team is four girls and four guys, one per year. There are only eight of us. I’m the only freshman. We are also a part of the swim team, but we train independently of them. We listen to music, we have fun, we do what needs to be done. We are at an Ivy League, so it’s important that we have fun because we are already working so hard.
7. How do you stay in shape or work on your diving in the off-season?
I like to run, so I like to do that when I’m not training so much. Also just trying to find fun things to do outside of diving, like workout classes or working out with other people on the team because you can’t really do those during the season. Running is the biggest one though.
8. What is your favorite dive?
My favorite is a front two-and-a-half full twist that I do. It’s also my hardest dive, so I don’t always do it the best, but when I get it right, it’s a really fun dive to do.
9. How do you know if your dive went well?
You want to enter the water vertically, straight, not smacking the surface or anything. We come out of the water, and we get feedback from our coach. We also have TiVo, which films our dives, so we watch our dives on the TV and learn where we can improve.
10. What keeps you motivated?
The team keeps me the most motivated. I genuinely like going to practice every day, and I am having fun. It’s not worth doing the sport if it doesn’t make you happy.
11. Did you always think you were going to dive in college?
That was my main goal. I’m from Canada. There is no diving in university in Canada. I was either going to quit diving and go to university in Canada or go to the United States and dive. Ever since one of my teammates went to Columbia when I was a high school freshman, I was really inspired.
12. Do you have an unpopular opinion?
I hate country music, and that has been controversial here. I also don’t like cheese.
13. How do you feel you have grown since you started diving at Penn?
I feel like I’ve learned so many things from the seniors on the team, and that has taught me about life after college. It’s taught me to really appreciate the four years. It’s easy to complain about college life, and it’s easy to take it for granted.
14. What are you looking forward to in the future while being on the team?
I’m really excited about having new freshmen come onto the team, welcoming them, and being an upperclassman. Our team is really close and the upperclassmen have done a really good job of making sure that we are close. Also, diving in the Ivy League is getting a lot better, and Penn’s program is getting a lot stronger, so it’s really motivating.
15. Where do you see yourself after college?
I could see myself living somewhere in the U.S. for a few years working, but my end goal is to move back to Vancouver and live in my hometown. I don’t think I will dive after college, that’s just these four years. I’m interested in working as a sports psychologist and dietitian.