Lohman puts a winning twist on diving
Maria Lohman studies physics because it is a required course after having studied chemistry at her high school. However, the Chartiers Valley junior is poetry in motion when she transfers her energy onto the diving board.
Of physics, Lohman explains, “It’s not my favorite class because it’s difficult.” But when presented with a problem regarding diving where she must figure out velocity in relation to change of height, Lohman finds that fascinating. “That interests me a little bit,” she said.
Fascinating has been Lohman’s three-year experiment in scholastic competition. She has parlayed twists and turns; flips and spins, into solid gold.
Recently, Lohman captured her third straight WPIAL title. After winning the Class AA competition as a freshman, Lohman moved up to AAA and claimed her second consecutive gold medal with a record performance. She posted a personal best score of 540.15 points to win the gold medal.
“I was real excited,” she said of her Feb. 22 performance at the North Allegheny High School pool. “My goal was to break 500.”
By beefing up her diving list this season, Lohman also shattered her own school record. This year, she added a reverse one-and-one half twisting, one-and-one half somersault to her repertoire. It carries a 2.7 degree of difficulty. The dive complements her go-to dive, which is a full-twisting, one-and one-half somersault with a 2.2 DD.
One of Lohman’s favorite dives is a back pike. “It’s a graceful dive,” she explained. “I put it at the beginning because I know it’s a dive that I rarely miss and it builds my confidence. It’s important to start strong and be confident in a competition.
Lohman noted that her new dive is harder than her go-to dive but the latter is her most solid one for a voluntary. The somersault with the full twist garnered scores ranging from sevens to eights at the district finals.
During the competition, Lohman paid no heed to the scoreboard. She focused on performance rather than expectations. As the defending champion, she was supposed to retain her title.
Knowing that a victory was anticipated, Lohman said, “I tried to block that out. When I think about that, then I don’t perform as well.
During the championships, Lohman said she tried to stay in her own zone and not worry about (the score) until the meet was over. “Normally, I have an idea but I don’t like to look at the screen until the end.”
Lohman’s approach enhanced her performance. She felt it was her best WPIAL final to date. “Most solid,” she commented. “I wasn’t as nervous. I blocked out the pressure of winning and that helped a lot.”
When Lohman travels to Bucknell Univesity to compete March 12-14 in the PIAA championships, she will rely on her past experiences to again aid her. She is the reining state champion.
“The goal is to defend my title. Definitely,” she said. “It will be competitive.”
Because there are a couple girls from last year competing against her again, Lohman added she must hone her diving list. Her intention is to improve her score. “I think I can do better. I have a high DD on my voluntaries and it’s good to have them stacked. But I have to go into the performance as good or better than I was at WPIALs. I have to make my list sharper.”
While she has yet to score a 10 on a dive, Lohman constantly strives to improve. “Opinions vary,” she said regarding judgment on performances, “but you can tell by the range of scores whether it was a good dive. The goal is always to get a 10. I go into every dive looking for perfection.”
That’s one reason why Lohman trains at the University of Pittsburgh. She has studied under Julian and Doe Krug for the past six years. And before she completes her scholastic career and heads off to college—her dream schools are Arizona or Duke—Lohman hopes to put more distance between herself and the competition.
“I want to try and make my scores as high as possible,” she said then added of her school mark, “I’d like my name to stay up there (on the record board) for a while.”
NOTES: Brionna Litwin(378.50) of Bethel Park and Kalli Bickett(369.90) of Mt. Lebanon finished fifth and sixth respectively in the WPIAL Class AAA competition and earned berths in the PIAA state championships.
Cary Johns of Mt. Lebanon finished fourth in the boys’ competition with a 400.10 score. He also qualified for the state competition.