Traub the glue that bonds divers and swimmers at Council Rock North (GALLERY)

NEWTOWN – To become a dominant scholastic swim power, a team needs talent, dedication and numbers. Over the years, Council Rock North has consistently possessed all of these necessary qualities.

The girls team, presently guided by second-year coach Tori Hall, has recorded eight straight Suburban One League (SOL) National Conference titles. The boys, under the leadership of veteran coach Brian Johnson, saw their string of four consecutive SOL National conference titles broken last season when they lost a heartbreaker to archrival Pennsbury.

Though both squads lost key performers to graduation, they have reloaded with a new school of young talent. The girls look to seniors Rachel Samson, Becca Segel, Kalli Segel, and Madison Schluchterer to help guide such promising freshmen as Jacqueline Rounsaville, Julia Goroshko and Emily Booth. On the male side, seniors Allen Shmurak and Joe Segel hope to lead such capable underclassmen as Ryan Lawlor and Blake Eshelman back to the top of the National Conference.

Each of the members of the squad knows his or her effort counts. Whether they dominate an event or just log place and show points, every Indian’s contribution adds to the total team success. Numbered among the contributors are the all-important divers. The boys feature sophomore Angelo Iapalucci and senior John Rozbloch. The girls are well-represented by veteran senior Jessica Traub.

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Jessica, a four-year varsity performer, values the total team emphasis this year’s squad has taken.

“This year, the dive and swim team have come together in a way I haven’t seen in the past. The swimmers seem to be into watching and cheering for the divers and the divers are the same way for the swimmers. It’s a good bond that we are all forming together and making it swimming and diving, not swimming period and diving period. It’s hard because we don’t practice at even near similar times.”

Jessica’s entry into the world of diving started innocently enough. “When I was little, I remember being at the swim club and my dad would say if you do a flip, then I’ll do one. He always kind of coaxed me to do it. I always found a little bit of a rush in it.”

The little rush turned into an outright surge, “I‘ve always been a little of an adrenaline junkie. Obviously, I have fears and that’s one of the biggest parts of diving – getting over the mental part rather than the physical. It’s a rush doing something that people say, ‘Oh my gosh, how can you do that?’ But it’s a great feeling when you stick a landing.”

Eager to master her art, Jessica started honing her skills at a local club. “I always want to jump to the next level. My club coach said you need to learn the dives the right way. Diving is not a gradual slope where you progressively, continually get better. You hit walls. You’ll get your toe point perfect but you’ll be so busy concentrating on your toe point that you might not swing hard enough. There are so many walls you have to climb over. You’re always fighting to get more.”

Not all of the learning process takes place in the water. Divers do a lot of dry land work to ready themselves for the moment when they have to spring from a board, soar into the air and then contort through several rapid moves before entering the water.

“We work on core exercises such as crunches. We do kick outs where you’re in a ball and kick as hard as you can. We do trampoline work. Sometimes, they have a belt they use to guide you through the whole dive.”

Basics learned, the diver then has to handle that nerve-wracking first performance in an actual meet. Unlike the rest of a swim meet that features screaming fans and spirited teammates, the divers test their worth in an eerie silence.

“It’s so daunting. I remember my first meet as a freshman, I was a wreck. The way they enforce the quiet really made me nervous.”

Experience and the support of a loyal following helped Jessica handle any case of jitters. “I have a couple of great friends and they scream and get me excited. I take the first few minutes before each dive to run through it in my head and do a couple of moves on dry land to get the feeling for it. That helps relieve the stress.”

As calm as she might become, Jessica knows she will not hit every dive perfectly. She keeps such miscues in perspective. “When you hit a new dive, it’s great. I remember when I first started doing a reverse dive, which is when you go off the board facing forward and then dive backward toward the board. I would try every practice and every practice (and) I’d fall flat on my back over and over again. One day, it just clicked and I did it. It was such a great feeling. Finally, the smacking was over.”

Jessica uses this maturity as a basis for her whole swim career. “I am competing against people who have been diving their whole life and that makes it tough. But I think I can go out there for myself and do my personal best. Diving is such a mental and physical release for me. I’ll go to practice in a miserable mood and come out feeling so much better. It’s not about being the best. It’s that I need it in my life for my own enjoyment.”

Jessica’s efforts and smooth performance should also add joy to all her teammates. Together, they are once again displaying the winning formula so characteristic of the Council Rock North swim program.

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