NEW CANAAN — To capture a league title and two state diving championships in the same year is a tremendous feat.
To perform the trifecta in back-to-back years is a special achievement.
The victory tour has been sweet for Norwalk High School senior Kevin Bradley.
“The boys swimming All-State dinner is always a great event,” Bradley said. (Legendary Greenwich High School boys swim) Coach (Terry) Lowe always does a great job with his speech. I always look forward to it. The recognition is very nice.”
Bradley repeated as FCIAC, Class LL and State Open diving champion as he edged Sheehan’s Andrew Buehler by 1.05 points in the Open competition at the Bulkeley High School natatorium in Hartford.
“It has sunk in and it’s a great, great feeling to have repeated as champion in all three events,” Bradley said. “I thought about the trifecta a lot over the course of this season. The pressure was on but I was glad to get it done.”
Bradley’s accomplishment was a nice milestone. However, Tianyi Zeng of Daniel Hand was State Open diving champ in 2017, ’16, ’15 and ’14 and set the Connecticut state diving record for points (619.25) in 2017.
There was one factor that helped make Bradley’s senior year at Norwalk High memorable. Bradley made his decision to dive for the University of Michigan last October.
“It was a long process but my parents told me ‘It’s your decision.’ And my mom stressed, ‘Take in everything when you make your college visits,’ ” Bradley said. “I felt at home at Michigan. Everyone in the diving program gave me a whole slew of positives. I tried making a list but I had a hard time coming up with cons about Michigan.”
One of the extras unique to Michigan is ‘The Big House.’ Michigan’s football stadium, originally built in 1927 for $950,000, now has an official capacity of 107,601 fans with standing room that can raise it to 115,000 for a gridiron contest.
“My dad is from Michigan. Michigan has been my dream school for some time,” Bradley said. “I’ve been to three football games in the Big House. With all those fans, the atmosphere is crazy. Such amazing school spirit.”
Some athletes might rest on their laurels and count the days to college admission in the fall.
But Bradley is not in that group. He will continue working out with the New Canaan Whirlwind diving club and point to U.S. Summer Nationals which both 1-meter and 3-meter (platform) diving.
“The summer nationals have always been fun. And it’s something I want to do,” Bradley said. “This year the nationals are in Knoxville, Tennessee. That should be a fun place to visit.”
The Whirlwind Diving Club at the New Canaan YMCA under the direction of Joe Somma and Adam Vance brings together a number of the FCIAC’s best divers.
Besides Bradley and Ridgefield High senior Caitlin Inall, New Canaan High juniors James Ragusa, Connor Cloud, George Moore and Jackson Camporin are on the roster. The New Canaan quartet should be looking to be a force in FCIAC and state diving in 2020.
“The Whirlwind teammates are a big reason I did as well as I did. Their constant support is tremendous,” Bradley said. “We do film work. But we can be each other’s eyes watching our dives.”
Bradley was clearly physically stronger and much more precise in his diving repertoire this season. And he performed more high-value (greater degree of difficulty) dives among his 11 than his competitors.
“I prep a new dive for weeks before adding it to my performance,” Bradley said. “I try it on both the 1-meter and 3-meter boards. I look at a lot of film of my dives. When you’re in the air, you don’t have a good picture of what you might be doing wrong. In the end, the coaches (Somma, Vance) tell me when they think a new dive of mine is ready to go. Diving is 50 percent physical and 50 percent mental.”