CMS divers dance their way to SCIAC podium performances

Kendall Hollimon CM ’20 took first place in both the one-meter and three-meter events at the 2019 SCIAC Diving Championships on Feb. 16 and 17. (Elinor Aspegren • The Student Life)

The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps dive team recently began warming up for meets in an unconventional way: a choreographed team dance to the song “Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!!” by Vengaboys.

Despite the stakes of the 2019 SCIAC Diving Championships — which took place Feb. 16 and 17 at Pomona College’s Haldeman Pool and will factor in with the swimming results this weekend to determine the overall team title — the meet was no exception to the team’s dancing ritual.

The dance originated at this season’s training camp, which took place over winter break. It was built off moves Jen Franklin CM ’21 knew to the song “Cotton Eye Joe” by Rednex, and was set to what Kendall Hollimon CM ’20 called the “techno-poppiest worst song of all time.”

“All of us were there, we got super involved, and it was really fun,” Luke Lenhart CM ’22 said.

Watch the routine, performed before an evening practice, below:

It’s been working so far; Hollimon, already a two-time defending SCIAC champion, once again won both the one-meter and three-meter boards last weekend. Jacque Desmond SC ’19 placed third in both events.

Diving coach Fran Jobes said the dance was not the only thing that came together during training camp. The team had a slow start in the fall, with Franklin and Lenhart brand new to the sport, and the close-knit squad felt the absence in leadership from All-American Hollimon, who spent the fall semester studying in Washington, D.C.

“Over training camp they just pulled together and it was really cool to see. As a team they pull each other forward,” Jobes said.

In addition to the “Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!!” routine, the team dances, sings, and cheers loudly from the deck throughout meets. Jobes and her divers believe the team’s friendly dynamic contributes to its yearly ability to welcome inexperienced divers and get them up to speed quickly.

Jacque Desmond SC ’19 placed third in the one-meter and three-meter events at the 2019 SCIAC Diving Championships on Feb. 16 and 17. (Elinor Aspegren • The Student Life)

Lenhart said the team’s energy helped him avoid getting discouraged as he made the transition into diving from years spent swimming and playing water polo.

“We all have to have that [playful] attitude in order to learn a new dive,” said Lenhart, adding that diving is a much more mental sport than his previous aquatic experiences. “I’d practically just face-plant in the water every single time I landed the first couple days.”

Hollimon is also a contributor to the singing and dancing culture on the team.

“It’s a way that I like to get out a lot of my energy, especially my nervous energy, and so I’ll always be singing or dancing and that’s so I don’t shake or implode,” he said.

Next month, Hollimon will look to improve on his finishes from the 2018 NCAA Championships, where he placed fourth in the three-meter and seventh in the one-meter. Though he thinks he’s diving well right now, he acknowledged that continued success leads to added pressure.

“People are like, ‘You’re defending your title.’ I’m just diving,” Hollimon said. “It’s good to have positive expectations for yourself and for others to have positive expectations, but it definitely does get stressful sometimes.”

Desmond is also new to the sport; she picked it up as a sophomore, and credited her quick learning to Jobes’ “perceptive” coaching.

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“She can change her style a little to suit everyone,” she said. “It’s honestly impressive to watch.”

When nervous, she knows she can lean on her teammates’ goofiness to avoid getting too much in her head.

“We know it’s a serious thing but we try to have fun,” she said. “We’re a bunch of weirdos trying to do crazy things with our bodies and hoping for the best.”

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