Olympic diving hopeful putting in the work; ready to compete at upcoming trials

Japan 2020

MIDLAND, Tx. (WAVY) – Olympic hopefuls all across the country have had to adapt because of the coronavirus pandemic. A diver in Texas is using the extra time to prepare knowing that the games will look and feel very different from the norm.

Sam Pickens love of diving started more than a decade ago. She was introduced to the sport growing up in Pittsburgh and then competed on the collegiate level at the University of Arizona. That’s when her Olympic dreams started to take hold.

“I finally started to buy into that mentality that ‘okay, I really don’t want to be just a college diver anymore’,” said Pickens. “I want to go even further, I want to go to the World Championships, I want to go to, be a top placer at Olympic trials.”

After graduation, that goal became top priority.

She’s now in Texas, still working with her college coach.

“I train pretty much all hours of the morning and then I coach in the evenings,” Pickens said. “I coach here in Midland and absolutely love it.”

Pickens says the pandemic gave her time to rest and train and remember that she can compete with the best of the best.

“You go to the meets and you realize you’re with all of these amazing athletes and you know, from all over the world, and you’re there because you qualified, and you have a reason to be there,” Pickens said.

While her family won’t be able to travel to Japan if she does qualify for the Olympic Games, she says their support is something she will feel all the way on the other side of the world.

“So obviously it would be really hard for them if I made and Olympic team and they weren’t able to go,” said Pickens. “But just having their support throughout this whole process has meant more to me than I think anything else.”

For now, she’s taking things step by step, preparing to compete on the world stage.

“You dream about it and you think about it all the time now, at this elite level, that’s all you eat, sleep and think, Olympic Games,” said Pickens.

The Olympic trials for diving are the second week of June in Indianapolis.

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