Concord Middle School student dives into national competition 

By Oliver L. Longo  Correspondent
August 25, 2023

The USA Diving federation produces Olympic divers — and Concord Middle Schooler Audrey Herz hopes to be one of them.

Audrey dove her way to the semifinals round on both one-meter and platform dives this summer at the USA Dive Nationals competition, and placed tenth in the finals round for the three-meter board. 

“Guts. Grace. Glory” is a fitting motto for the sport and its athletes, who train intensively to perform daunting — yet graceful — feats in pursuit of victory. 

Audrey began her athletic career with gymnastics at a young age. After starting summer club diving, she eventually made the switch to the sport full time, and over the past five years has competed at various dive tournaments. 

In her journey this year towards the USA Junior Dive Nationals, Audrey first dove in one of 12 regional tournaments in April, from which 15 divers advance to Zones in June — a larger and more challenging competition. Across six Zones tournaments, the top 10 competitors from each then qualify for Nationals, where the country’s best divers go head to head.

In addition to the USA Junior Dive Nationals, this year, Audrey finished first on the one- and three-meter boards at both AAU Nationals as well as the Red-White-Blue Nationals.

Audrey practices five days a week, with an hour and a half of water training. On top of the demanding physical aspect of the sport, diving calls for unwavering mental clarity and composure.

“Most of diving is just mental,” said Audrey. 

“In the moment before you dive, there’s a lot of distractions, so you have to focus,” she said. “You have to pretend that it’s not as big of a meet as it is so you can stay calm.”

Part of what makes the mental aspect of diving so pertinent to performance is the fact that it is an individual sport. And while Audrey completes her dives on her own, her teammates and the camaraderie of diving is one of her favorite parts of the experience.

“It is an individual sport, but everyone is all together and motivating each other together,” she said. “It’s fun. You make a lot of friends.”

Audrey attended a diving summer camp, learning new moves and training for her next competition. Moving forward, she plans to travel to Scotland in December for a tournament. She dove in both Sweden and Denmark last fall.

Diving is growing in popularity and the sport itself is advancing, Audrey said. 

“In the past, doing things that now people do easily was hard. Some dives that people didn’t even do are now easy dives.” She attributes this to divers developing a better understanding of the physics of the sport, and how to use their bodies for optimal performance. 

Audrey competes with Boston Area Diving, where her coach, Joe Chirico, helps her both in training and on meet day. According to Audrey, it’s an important aspect of her diving. 

“Getting a dive, you have to just trust your coach and what you can do,” she said.