Unlike his Lake Forest High School teammates who knew instantly they qualified for the State Meet after their sectional swim, diver Andrew Marsh had a few hours of suspense before he learned he would be joining four of his teammates at this weekend's finals at New Trier High School in Winnetka.
“I was sitting in my car Saturday night waiting to get something to eat when I got a text message from (diving coach) Pam (Uhrik) telling me to be at practice Monday,” Marsh said. “Words could not explain how happy I was.”
Marsh became Lake Forest's first diver to qualify for state in four years. The 16 sectional diving winners advance to the State Meet along with the next 16 highest scores. Marsh placed sixth in last Saturday's Vernon Hills Sectional, but left unsure of his fate and had to wait until statewide results were tabulated. Because of ties, 50 divers will compete in Friday’s preliminary round.
Marsh will join swimmers Bryan Bunning, Peter Grumhaus, Davis Malone and Colin Rowe — the quartet of swimmers who also form the Scouts' two state qualifying relay teams — at the State Meet.
Marsh, a lacrosse player since fourth grade, did not begin competitive diving until seventh grade at the Windy City Club at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire. His interest waned and he did not compete as an eighth grader, but kept diving for enjoyment around pools in Lake Forest.
Once he joined the Scouts, Marsh quickly bonded with his comrades and found the team atmosphere to his liking.
“It’s fun to be on a team. It’s cool,” Marsh said. “A lot of us are friends in and out of season. We have dinner together and do things together.”
When the state diving preliminaries begin at 9 a.m. Friday, Marsh will perform five dives to become one of 16 semifinalists later that day. In the semifinals, the divers will have three dives left to make the finals.
Twelve competitors will move to Saturday’s finals to earn points for their team. Marsh has been spending the week making necessary adjustments.
“We’re trying to clean up everything (this week) like keeping his legs straight,” Uhrik said. “We’re giving him a lot of positive reinforcement this week.”
While Marsh is working on the details of his routine, the quartet of swimmers representing Lake Forest in five events and two relays has been tapering since the North Suburban Conference Meet on Feb. 12 priming for Saturday’s finals. Dell set that goal before the season began.
“We increased distance a little Monday and Tuesday to spike their aerobics, and then we cut back,” Dell said. “I’ve trained them all I can; now we have to get them mentally ready.”
Bunning, Grumhaus, Malone and Rowe will swim together to open the meet in the 200-yard medley relay. They will come together to close the competition as well in the 400 freestyle relay.
Rowe will swim the 50 and 100 freestyles. Malone will compete in the 500 freestyle along with Grumhaus. Grumhaus and Bunning participate together in the 100 backstroke. Bunning is also entered in the 100 butterfly.
“The key now is to have fun,” Dell said. “Now they have to have it and know it, not hope it and think it.”