Diving right in: Fruita diver making a splash in first year on board

Fruita diver making a splash in first year on board

Fruita Monument diver Tamera Newland is getting the hang of diving. The former gymnast, in her first year diving for the Wildcats, has already achieved one state qualifying mark and needs one more to go to state.

Tamera Newland is getting used to falling head-first.

A former gymnast, the Fruita Monument High School first-year diver had to get used to hitting the water with her head pointed down.

For eight years in gymnastics, she’d been conditioned to protect her head, to do anything but lead with her head while descending.

“You pretty much have to tell yourself it’s not going to hurt if you go on your head,” Newland said. “You purposely go head-first. But I’ve gotten over that fear.”

With the District 51 meet at Colorado Mesa University coming up Jan. 25, Newland is halfway to qualifying for the 5A state tournament Feb. 10-11 in Fort Collins.

On Saturday at the Glenwood Springs Invitational, Newland hit a state-qualifying score of 206.2. One more meet scoring more than 200 points and she’s headed to state.

Of local 5A teams, Newland would join Grand Junction’s Taylor Kidd, who has qualified for state in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 2:03.94. Kidd, along with Stephanie Wahlers, Ellen Atkinson and Marina Silva, have qualified in the 200 freestyle relay.

“We’d like to get more, but I also have a lot of young swimmers who haven’t swam,” Grand Junction coach Janet Ryan said. “Only one (Kidd) swims year-round, so for us to qualify for that relay with girls who haven’t been swimming, that’s awesome.”

Newland can relate.

She’s done the exceptional in her first season as well.

Of course, her gymnastics background helped.

“It definitely helps that I know body control so I already knew positioning and everything,” Newland said. “The hardest part was putting everything in head-first.”

Newland also is the Wildcats’ lone diver. During meets, she walks the plank surrounded by competitors. Teammates cheer from afar.

“She blows me away,” Fruita coach Jessica Haley said. “I always think diving is the hardest sport. They have to be in control and precise all the time with their movements. She’s a lot of fun to watch.”

The night before her state-qualifying effort, at the Montrose Invitational, Newland missed the state-qualifying mark by 20 points.

“So the next day was pretty exciting,” Haley said. “Her whole family and the whole team were jumping up and down screaming.”

Newland said her highest-scoring dive, in which she received two 7s and a 7.5, was an inward one-and-a-half.

“I just pretty much nailed it,” Newland said. “I held onto it and prayed that it went in.”


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