We recently caught up with ASU diving coach Mark Bradshaw to get his thoughts on the upcoming season. Oh, and what was with ASU coaches, from nearly every sport, hurling themselves off the diving boards last week?
State Press: What did you think about the goofy coach diving competition that the athletic department had last week?
Mark Bradshaw: [Laughs] It’s basically a moment at the beginning of the year for all the student-athletes to hear our athletic director talk about what it means to be a Sun Devil athlete. Along with the great tradition comes great responsibility. We talked about how to perform.
The student-athlete advisory committee has this picnic every year. All the student-athletes come over [to the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center] and get in the water and have something to eat.
This year, the faculty decided to put a little spin on it and have some of the coaches do a diving contest just for fun. I think it was just to keep the interest of the student-athletes. I think it was a way to get the student-athletes to come and see the coaches look foolish. It was all in good fun, and I give our coaches that performed a lot of credit.
Some of them may have never seen a diving board before. It was pretty funny.
SP: Who was the best diver?
MB: I think our new wrestling coach Shawn [Charles] won. He got the most applause. That’s what it was based on, who got the most response. He went off one of the higher platforms, so he got the biggest applause.
SP: Did you participate?
MB: I did and I didn’t. I was feeling peer pressure from my comrades to do something, so I went up and did a very simple dive off the springboard. I think that kind of hurt me because in the eyes of the students you have to go off the platform, off the 10-meter, to get any big time cheering.
SP: Do you have an update on Micky Benedetti, ASU’s star All-American diver for the last four years? What has he been doing?
MB: He’s one of our post-eligibility athletes. He will graduate in May.
He is still actively pursuing his diving for his country, Italy, but he’s here, so he practices with us every day. Part of his involvement with the team is that he’s a great mentor for our younger group coming in, and the current group, too.
SP: How are the Olympic athletes [who have joined the squad this season] adjusting to ASU and to the team?
MB: The hard part for anybody coming in is that combination of getting into a big-time program and training hard, but they’re here because of school, so it’s a matter of that balancing act. It’s a big adjustment.
SP: How do you think the experience they all bring will help during the season?
MB: During the first part of the season it’s a lot of dual meets, but it’s important to get experience. The big part is the end of the season. It’s where we try to really make it. That’s where we train to have the biggest impact with the overall swimming and diving, in our Pac-10 Championship. The rest of the season builds toward it. I’ve got a pretty experienced group, and I’m really proud of what this group can do as individuals.
SP: How have you been preparing for the season?
MB: We just started going full out this week with two-a-day practices. We have conditioning and normal diving practices.
SP: How do you think the new swimming coaching staff is doing?
MB: Awesome. Our practices aren’t always at the same time, so I don’t always see what they’re doing, but the kids seem very involved, active and excited. I know the kids are working very hard.
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