Auburn Mountainview diver Alexandra Gondry takes the plunge

To say that Auburn Mountainview diver Alexandra Gondry had never been in a pool before this year’s swimming and diving season began would be a bit of an exaggeration – but not by much.

To say that Auburn Mountainview diver Alexandra Gondry had never been in a pool before this year’s swimming and diving season began would be a bit of an exaggeration – but not by much.

“I didn’t even know how to swim starting out,” the 16-year-old junior said. “I’ve been in pools before – I just never knew how to swim forward.”

Now, just a few scant months after hitting the pool competitively as a diver for the Lions, Gondry has not only learned how to swim forward, she also has qualified for the West Central District 3A diving meet. Gondry and her Auburn Mountainview teammates will take to the district waters today at the Hazen High School Pool. The top seven finishers move on to the state meet, next weekend in Federal Way.

According to Gondry – who earned a spot at the district meet along with the Lions’ Mariya Popruzhnyy and Jessica Nuttall – her performance at the South Puget Sound League 3A sub-district meet was a bit of a surprise.

“I was surprised,” she said. “I didn’t expect to make it to districts.”

Initially, Gondry admitted she was intimidated by the competition and worried that she didn’t have enough experience.

But facing down new things is nothing new to Gondry.

Born in Rota, Spain to a U.S. Navy family, Gondry spent much of her life bounding from duty station to duty station. She attended three different elementary schools, two middle schools and attended high school in Georgia before settling into Auburn 18 months ago.

Athletically she’s been a bit of a wanderer as well, trying out several sports before settling on diving and gymnastics.

“I’ve done volleyball, as a freshman at Liberty County (High School in Hinesville, Ga.),” Gondry said. “And I did wrestling one year. It was hard, a lot of energy.”

After competing in gymnastics for the Lions last season, Gondry decided to turn out for the diving team because of the similarities she saw between the sports.

“I thought it would be cool because it’s similar to gymnastics, but with water and in the air,” she said.

A couple of trips to the diving board proved otherwise, she said.

“It wasn’t really similar at all. You have to relearn a lot of things.”

At the beginning, Gondry said that her gymnastics training helped.

“Some things like keeping straight in the air and the muscles you use are similar,” she added. “But other things, like our hurdles (the jump before using the diving board to get air) are different. You move your arms in the opposite direction from gymnastics. So I had to relearn that.”

According to Gondry, learning the hurdle was a crucial aspect of her training.

“It’s all in the hurdle,” she said. “You have to do your hurdle perfect or you can’t do your dive and you just plop. And it’s harder if you mess up in diving, because it hurts.”

Luckily, her athletic ability has minimized the times she’s plopped into the water, Auburn Mountainview diving coach Jim Southerland said.

“Actually she’s a really good athlete,” he said. “She has a great attitude and works really hard. So for the amount of time that we’ve put in this year they’ve all done really well.”

“Every day she gets better,” Southerland added. “She works really hard, never gives up and is the first one in and out of the pool every day.”

For Gondry, the season has been a pleasant surprise, although she wishes herself and other members of the team would get a little more recognition.

“I wish we got more recognition for doing the sport,” she said. “It’s hard and I wish more people would notice.”

But at the end of the day, Gondry said it’s more about the camaraderie and being a member of the team that matter more than athletic accolades.

“People are a lot more friendly, because you’re working with them every day,” she said. “And you get to know them faster. And they want to get to know you because you’re working with them.”