This time of year, sports fans are usually preoccupied with the boys of summer. Thoughts of swimming and diving, except for those occasional trips to the beach, belong to colder months.
But, while most of us in the Brainerd lakes area are taking advantage of warm weather to be outside, one lone Warrior is still inside, spending his days in, above and around indoor pools. Trying to improve on a diving technique that is already one of the best this area has seen.
Shaun Kennedy, diver for the Brainerd Warriors, has set himself up for a heavy schedule of competitions this summer. And he's making the most of his opportunities, building his medal cache and his reputation.
Kennedy's first conquest this summer was the U.S. Diving Junior Olympics program. He also dove in a diving show with several world class divers, including current world title holders, a bronze medalist from the 1984 Olympics and two members of the U.S. National team.
Kennedy also competed in the Junior Olympics Regional championships which were held in Milwaukee on July 6-8. There, he won a silver and a bronze medal.
His performance in the Junior Olympics got Kennedy a ticket for the U.S. Diving Zone championships which took place in Washington, D.C., on July 20-22.
Events in the U.S. Diving Zone championships included 1 meter springboard, 3 meter springboard and platform, a new event for Kennedy. Divers who placed in the top five in each event qualified to take part in the combined national championships.
Kennedy qualified in all three events, diving to two third-place and one-fourth place finishes.
"This was Shaun's first time competing on platform," said Kennedy's father, Tracy. "Everybody says just making it to nationals is the big thing. It's so difficult to get there but once you do, you can just go out and dive. This is the big show."
The National Championships will be in Indianapolis, Ind., July 31-Aug. 5. There, he will compete against the top five divers in the 14-15 year age group from across the country. Kennedy's diving events there will include the three meter springboard, 1 meter springboard and platform.
"Shaun is only one of 20 divers in the nation who qualified in all three events," said Tracy Kennedy. "That's quite an accomplishment."
Before heading east, Kennedy has a little unfinished business to handle right here in Minnesota. This weekend, he is competing in the Minnesota State diving championships in Anoka. Kennedy has already picked up a gold medal for his performance in the one-meter dive. He'll try to add to that total as the weekend progresses.
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