ASU junior Riley McCormick is a seasoned veteran in the sport of diving.
McCormick has competed in the ten-meter platform dive in the last two summer Olympic games for his home country, Canada.
The Victoria, British Columbia, native started diving at the age of 4, when an aquatic center was constructed near his house for the 1994 Commonwealth Games.
“I was learning how to swim at that age, and I found that too boring, but I still had to learn how to swim, so my parents made me go into diving and the rest is history,” McCormick said.
McCormick seemingly has a rich history in diving so far, and he’s only 21 years old. In his high school career he collected many awards, including 14 National Junior gold medals, three Senior National gold medals and five Junior Pan Am gold medals, according to the ASU Athletic Department.
Not to mention, he placed 16th in 10m platform dive in the 2008 Beijing Olympics at the age of 16.
“I feel like I couldn’t appreciate (the Olympics) to it’s full potential,” McCormick said. “I made the semi-finals, which was my goal at the time, and I was happy with how I did, but at the same time I was disappointed because I didn’t really get out of my room much to see anything to do with the Olympics.”
After the 2008 Olympics, Riley finished up his high school career and soon decided to attend ASU, where he has excelled at a very high level. He was named the Pac-10 Diver of the Year in both his freshman and sophomore seasons and received All-American honors his sophomore year.
For the 2011-12 season, McCormick redshirted so that he could go back to Canada to train for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
“Going into London, I took a lot more experience and a different approach,” McCormick said. “Instead of putting so much effort into the Olympic trials, I was still hungry for a good finish at the Olympics.”
Although McCormick finished 11th with a score of 493.35 in the final round, he definitely seemed to relish the moment a bit more this time around.
“You feel like you’re in a dream,” he said. “You walk around and see Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and James Harden. You feel like you belong in a place that’s a little bit above what you do in your everyday life.”
Not only did Riley take in more of the Olympic atmosphere in 2012, but he also saw his popularity skyrocket in just a couple of nights. According to him, his number of Twitter followers jumped from one thousand to eight thousand in one night.
“Our sport is growing so rapidly right now,” McCormick said. “(New divers) are propelling our sport into a new era where it’s really exciting to see the changes, and I’m right in the middle of it.”
As far as competing in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, McCormick says he plans on going again, but needs to focus on school and competing for ASU in the meantime.
When asked if he’s going to take anything away from training and the Olympics, McCormick said, “I think the biggest thing is the work ethic, I just want to be able to carry that over into something else after I’m no longer able to compete.”
As far as this year is concerned, McCormick has specific goals set for the rest of his collegiate career.
“I definitely want to be in the top three in the NCAA championships as well as improve on the springboards,” he said. “So I really want to start transitioning more over to a springboard diver than a platform.”
If McCormick wants to be in consideration for another Pac-12 Diver of the Year award, he’s got a couple of tough tests throughout the year against Olympic caliber opponents.
One of the challenges this season is coming up in January when McCormick faces off against Stanford sophomore Kristian Ipsen, the bronze medalist in synchronized diving in London this summer.
“We’re all friends on the diving circuit, it’s a lot like golf where you compete against yourself, you can’t control how somebody else does so there’s never really any animosity towards another competitor, so it’ll be good to see (Ipsen),” McCormick said.
McCormick, along with Ipsen, are just two of the young crafty athletes evolving the sport of diving and are making it more popular to the masses.
If one thing is for certain, it’s the fact that Riley McCormick is going to go toe-to-toe with some of the top divers in the nation and will likely solidify his spot as one of the best this year. His laid back demeanor exudes a quiet confidence, which probably comes from all of the experience.
ASU students and fans should come out to watch the amazing talent that is Riley McCormick. It’s a treat to be able to watch an Olympic athlete excel at their craft.
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