Team Player: Ciara Rinaudo
Diver Ciara Rinaudo x’11 has had to fight some bad habits over the years, such as the urge to look at the ground when flying through the air or trying to land on her feet instead of her head.
“To this day I still have my gymnast habits, which are not good for diving,” says the UW senior with a laugh. “[Gymnasts] know how to flip and twist, but some fundamental techniques are very different.”
Recognizing her natural talent, Rinaudo’s high school diving coach offered her the chance to spend two years competing in meets only, without having to join the team for practice. She quickly fell in love with the sport. Entering her junior year, she retired the leotard to focus full time on diving, and by season’s end, she’d laid claim to the Arizona state high school diving championship. Calls from college coaches poured in, including several from the UW’s Tom Michael, and a visit to the UW campus during a Halloween weekend sealed the deal.
A self-proclaimed “adrenaline junkie,” Rinaudo (whose first name is pronounced “sierra”) structures many of her dives around the back position (where she stands on the end of the board with her back to the water and rotates away from the board), or the reverse or gainer position (where she approaches the end of the board and rotates back toward it).
Battling a back injury, Rinaudo was forced to give up the ten-meter platform — where divers can reach the water at thirty-three miles per hour — halfway through her sophomore year and focused on the one- and three-meter springboards. She reached finals at the Big Ten championships as a sophomore, and she hopes to return for her senior season before qualifying for her ultimate collegiate goal: the NCAA championships next March.
“Diving is great because there’s never a plateau you can get to where you say, ‘This is it and I can’t go any further,’ ” she says. “You can always add a flip or twist and make a bigger list.”
Published in the Summer 2010 issue