by Eric Oslund
As Olivia Hansen stands on the diving board, waiting to fly through the air and enter into the water, she tries to clear her mind. She doesn’t want to think about the crowd, how many points she needs to score, what twists and turns she needs to make while in the air, or anything else.
All she wants to do is rid her mind of all thoughts and distractions, and think about her approach because once she is airborne she knows her body will do the rest.
While most people get nervous about flying through the air, not knowing how exactly they will land, Hansen feels comfortable. She has been doing gymnastics for eight years, and working as a diver for three, so spinning in the air with no assistance has become second nature to her.
“A lot of it is air sense, she began. “I know what it feels like to flip in the air, and a lot of it is comfort in the air as well. New divers who have never been in gymnastics before, it’s really hard for them to get over the fear. It’s really nice to have that experience in gymnastics to carry over to diving.”
During the 2016-17 gymnastics season, Hansen led the Elk River team at the section meet, putting together one of the best performances of her carrier. And now, just a few meets into the 2017 swim/dive season, she is using that momentum and looking like a different competitor.
She knew she wanted to make a change for her senior year. Instead of being critical of herself, breaking down every mistake she would make and trying to fix them on the spot, she would just have fun with it and let the scores work themselves out. And her approach has been working to perfection.
The first time she competed this season was in a conference meet, where she would go up against the best divers in the conference and came away in third with a 190. She followed that up with a 170 and a first-place finish against Moorhead, and then turned that into another first-place finish against Andover on Aug. 31, recording a new personal-best score of 204.20.
“I really just wanted to, for my last season, kind of go out with a bang and give it my all,” Hansen said. “A lot of my teammates, also, when I see how much fun they’re having and how hard they work, it really motivates me to push harder too.”
Not only does seeing her teammates working at their craft push Hansen, but so does the fact that they voted on her to be one of their captains during her senior season. It’s an honor that she does not take lightly, and is using that to help fuel her performance even more.
And as far as expectations go for her senior season? She doesn’t really have any.
“This season, I really really just want to have fun and get the best I can,” she said. “Of course, the ultimate goal is always to get to state, but even if I don’t, I’m having a lot of fun with this season and I really love the girls on the team. It’s going to be a great season.”
It’s still early in the year, but Hansen has shown that she is her to compete. She’s taking a new approach to her diving and it’s leading to some of the best scores she has ever recorded. There’s no telling how far she can ascend if she can keep it up, but it’s not something she is concerned with at this moment.
Instead, the senior captain just wants to enjoy the ride. Take in everything her senior season has to offer one last time before she graduates and moves on from the halls of Elk River High School.