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Gymnastics to Diving
Jen Besby


Gymnastics to Diving

The hard way.

By Jen Busby 1999-2000 Massachusetts State Diving Champion.

For 10 years, up until I was 14, my life outside of school consisted primarily of gymnastics. In June of 1996, I felt like I was on top of the world. I had just placed in the Level 9 Massachusetts State meet (all around) and was headed to the Junior Olympics in North Carolina. My plane tickets were purchased but in an instant, everything changed. A nasty spill, left me with two dislocated elbows and a very cloudy future in gymnastics. The three and one half years that followed my accident have been difficult but with the help of my gymnastics background and some wonderful coaches, my competitive energy has been focused on a new sport---diving. In just this short span of time, my performances have improved rapidly and this fall I was the winner of the Massachusetts High School diving championship.

I saw many other gymnasts get hurt, but it was my life. Gymnastics was an activity I really enjoyed. It required hard work and countless hours were spent in the gym practicing, but it was also a lot of fun and I really enjoyed competing in various meets around the country. For me, gymnastics required strength, agility and mental concentration. The ability to block out the constant aches and pains and to focus everything on the next move was important to a good performance. I liked all of the events but got my biggest rush when I was exploding powerfully off the vault or swinging through a set of giants on the uneven bars! I also enjoyed watching my teammates and rooting for them, especially when they were doing their tumbling routines on the floor.

After the injury to my elbows, I believed that it would just be a matter of time before I was back in the gym. I endured three major operations on my left elbow and hours of therapy but the net result was a very weakened joint and no future in gymnastics.

The transition to diving was relatively easy and my gymnastics background was my biggest asset. My official diving career started just four months after my accident when I went out for my high school team as a freshman. In fact, my arm had only been out of a cast for one month. I had some success my first year but spent most of my time learning how to do the required dives. Following my first year at the high school, I started working with an outside coach (US Diving team club) and began to concentrate on adding difficulty to my list of dives. The improvement over the next two years has really been dramatic, culminating in this year's championship.

Now my diving coaches think I can use my diving to help geting a better school or get a college scholarship. One door closed but many more are now open.

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