From Egypt to Arizona: Youssef Selim leads ASU dive team

The Egyptian sophomore headlines the Sun Devils' dive squad

In the 2017-2018 season, the most successful Sun Devil on the diving boards was sophomore Youssef Selim. With a Pac-12 championship and acting as the one male diver at the NCAA tournament, Selim was a standout. 

But his journey to ASU began back in 2016, when head diving coach Mark Bradshaw offered the best financial scholarship for Selim among schools who tried to recruit him, so he decided to travel 7,430 miles from Cairo to Tempe. 

“The first time I met Youssef was at a grand prix event in 2016 in Canada, and all I remember is that he was always smiling, and it looked like he was really excited to be around other really good divers," Bradshaw said. "You can tell he had a really great attitude. He’s easy to coach in terms of his demeanor.”

Selim started diving at the Gezira Sporting Club, the largest athletics facility in Egypt. The complex has been around since 1882. Selim noticed the stark differences in facilities when he came to Arizona.

“We don’t have a very good facilities in Egypt for diving; we only have one club (Gezira Sporting Club) which has a little bit of what we have here — I think this club has the most facilities needed for diving,” Selim said. “The practice is way different from back home, the system is much better and its organized with the school; I like to practice here more than back home.”

Bradshaw said that with a lack of facilities in Egypt, ASU's facilities impacted Selim's development.  

“He hadn’t been in a training situation and in a competitive situation where he was exposed to daily good training and the amount of hours and the way we do it here," Bradshaw said. "He was a diamond in the rough — he just needs some polishing and that’s kind of what we are doing.”

During Selim's freshman campaign, he was named a CSCAA Scholar All-American Honorable Mention and finished second in the 1-meter dive at Pac-12 Championships. He won the same competition this year with a striking score of 383.9. One week later, he won the 1-meter championships at the Zone E Diving Championships in Flagstaff. 

“Youssef is an awesome teammate who is able to be in a good mood even when things get tough," senior diver Heikki Makikallio said. "He is a machine at practice, works super hard and just keeps on grinding even through adversity. He is one of the best teammates I've ever had because he can combine had work and having fun."

No. 8 ASU swim and dive recently finished its season at the NCAA championships in Minneapolis. Selim competed in the 1-meter, 3-meter, and platform dives. The 5-foot-5-inch sophomore placed 29th overall with a score of 301.4.

He knows at some point after his time in the maroon and gold is over, he will have to go back to Egypt and complete a three-year army service requirement. 

This conscription in Egypt is a law where men ages 18-30 are obligated to enlist in the Egyptian Army, Egyptian Air Defense Systems, or the Egyptian Navy. Because he will have a degree, he will likely serve for three years as as opposed to one, Selim said.

“I would like to stay, it’s really nice here," Selim said. "I still have two years so I don’t really have any plans, but I know I will have to go back to Egypt.”

In the mean time, this summer, Selim will go back to Egypt and dive with the Egyptian national team that is competing in China at the 2018 FINA Diving World Cup in June. 

At the midway point of his career with the Sun Devils, Selim has Olympic goals in mind for post graduation in two years.

Selim has prior experience competing at the Olympics, he placed 25th in the 3-meter springboard in the 2016 Rio Olympics, competing for Egypt.

“I’m working here for Tokyo 2020,” Selim said. “That’s the highest goal for me so I’m working for that. Tokyo 2020 — it’s going to be great.”


Reach the reporter at nsheehy@asu.edu or follow @nsheehy_nick on Twitter.

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