That Kid's Got Game: East Bay diver dazzles with stellar 'air-awareness'


Eric Holzheimer, her coach at California Diving Academy in Walnut Creek, said Klausen is a college-caliber diver already. And the junior at Carondelet High School has another full year to hone in on imperfections and sharpen her craft. Here’s the wild part of Klausen's diving story, she’s been doing it for less than four years. A former high-level gymnast, Klausen knew she wanted to participate in a competitive high school sport, and since Carondelet doesn’t have a gymnastics program, she gave diving a shot the summer before she started high school.


“As a freshman, several of my former gymnast friends were on the school cheer team,” she said. “I tried it for a season, but realized I only wanted to dive.”


Last month, Klausen took first place for the second year in a row at North Coast Section, a state qualifier. And in Clovis less than two weeks later, she placed sixth at the California State Championship. She competes on both the low and high boards, which is one meter and three meters high, as well as three levels of the tower -- five, seven-and-half, and 10 meters high. 


“Diving, while physically demanding at high competitive levels, to me, is a mental sport,” Klausen said. “I know that I have the ability to do the most complex dives, it is a matter of learning to own, manage, and focus the fear.”


One's reaction to that fear, though time and effort, can be controlled, according to Holzheimer, who is also the executive director and founder of California Diving Academy. He notes Klausen’s “air-awareness,” or rather knowing her place in the air with relation to the ground, or water, when she is upside down. A skill likely attributable to her years competing as a gymnast. Though, mechanically the sports are very different, which is a barrier conquerable through tenacity, coaching and constancy.


“Courtney currently performs a solid-college level diving list on all three boards (1m, 3m and tower),” Holzheimer said. “As a junior in high school, we have an entire year to continue developing ‘bigger’ dives and improving the quality and consistency of the dives she performs now.”


And it’s a day-in, day-out gig, for Courtney. What about the middle of January with a training regiment to be completed in an outdoor poo? Yup, she’s diving right in.


“Next time it is cold and windy outside, put on a bathing suit, jump in a pool, then just stand on the deck for 30-60 seconds and imagine trying to focus on flipping and twisting in perfect form,” Holzheimer said.


But diving more than just a sport, for Klausen. It’s part of a connection to the grind of an athlete that has shaped her academic direction. Klausen’s persistent pursuit of diving at the college level is paralleled by her academic dreams. She’s interested in various disciplines of physical therapy, with a heightened focus on supporting athletes.


“Overall, I’m working at being a leader both in and out of diving, and I hope that I’m a good role model for athletes and non-athletes,” said Klausen. “Sometimes we all need a little push, whether it be through a bad day or a tough dive.”


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