GAINESVILLE - With a fearless acumen of jumping off a 30 foot platform and landing at 30-35 miles per hour in a pool, 14 year old Ava Brinkman has a shot at a national diving title in less than a …
GAINESVILLE - With a fearless acumen of jumping off a 30 foot platform and landing at 30-35 miles per hour in a pool, 14 year old Ava Brinkman has a shot at a national diving title in less than a week.
“Once I missed my hands and the water hit me right in the face,” said Brinkman, who will be entering Fleming Island High School in August as a freshman. “It’s pretty painful. I learned fast to get my hands in front of me.”
As a sibling to two formidable athletes; John Evan Brinkman, a Fleming Island High cross country standout, and Ellie Brinkman, a swimming standout, Ava Brinkman has found her niche by way of the pool.
“I was a swimmer first, but kept watching divers practice around me and thought that I might like it,” said Brinkman, who has meteorically rose to national ranks in just six years of competitive diving, most recently with the Gator Diving Club in Gainesville. “I wasn’t paying much attention to the swimming. The dream is to make the Olympics.”
Brinkman recently earned a ticket to the USA Diving Junior Nationals in Indianapolis July 28-Aug. 3 with top 10 finishes at the USA Diving Zone B Championships with a 10-meter tower win and a sixth place finish in the 1-meter springboard. Brinkman also competed in the 3-meter springboard, but finished 13th.
In the platform diving competition, from the 10-meter platform, Brinkman won decisively with a 318.90 total with the runnerup at 298.25. Her best dive, with a 2.80 degree of difficulty, was an inward 2-1/2 somersault pike position dive that requires the diver to face the concrete platform, leap out, then somersault toward the platform for two and half flips before striking the pool.
“I think it takes a lot of courage or guts to dive off that platform,” said Brinkman. “I’ve competed against the best divers in the country and think I’m prepared.”
For her coach, Lauren Perez Gillooly, a Venezuelan national team coach, now head diving coach at the Gator Dive Club, Brinkman’s success is a matter of work ethic, attention to detail and a little fearlessness.
“She has beautiful form and perfect lineup,” said Gillooly, who’s sister, Elizabeth is a University of Florida diver and a four-time Venezuela national diving champion. “She works very hard and competes hard.”
Brinkman sealed her finish in the 1-meter springboard with her best dive score of the competition on her final dive; a 2.40 difficulty inward 1-1/2 somersault pike dive that netted a 49.20 score en route to a 309.50 total. The winning total was 353.75 from Lanie Gutch of the Team Orlando Diving team.
Along with Lauren Perez Gilooly, Brinkman gets some coaching from Bryan Gillooly, an two-time NCAA champion diver for University of Miami and USA National team member; three-time national champion, and the University of Florida’s diving coach for the past five years,
“There is no secret to Ava’s success; it’s hard work,” said Gillooly, after watching Brinkman practice in the morning in Gainesville on Saturday. “She does the little extra that great athletes do. She will leave here and go to another pool and work more on her diving.”
Brinkman has been in the top 10 ranks of platform diving since 2018 with a second place finish at the 2019 USA Diving Juior Region 3 Championships and fifth place finishes in the 2019 Zone B platform and 1-meter springboard. There was no competition for 2020 due to COVID.
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