Head First

Junior diver Christina Shi is bound for Harvard after graduation, seizing an early recruitment opportunity to study and compete at her dream school.

Kate Gilliland, Staff Writer

At what age did you start taking diving seriously?

I dove at my first meet when I was around 8, so around then.

How did you begin diving? Where did you start? 

I was originally a swimmer, and I saw one of my teammates try it out. I thought it looked fun, so I decided to try too. I loved it and eventually quit swimming and just continued diving.

What does a diving practice consist of?

Usually, we start off by stretching and warming up, then we do dryland, and then we get in the water for like an hour and a half. But because of Covid, I now do dryland and conditioning at home. 

What has been your biggest win in diving? 

For high school diving, probably winning states. But for USA diving, my biggest accomplishment is probably making nationals every year.

What has been one of your biggest challenges in diving? 

Diving is definitely a mental sport, so it can get pretty frustrating when a dive isn’t going the way you’d like it to or if there’s something blocking you mentally, but you just have to overcome it. 

Do you have a favorite dive?

A reverse one-and-a-half on one meter. It was one of those dives that came naturally to me, and it’s fun to do.

What’s your least favorite dive to do?

A back two-and-a-half on three meter because it’s difficult to make the dive.

How do you friends, parents, and teammates help you prepare before a meet?

My parents and coaches are my biggest supporters. If I don’t feel well mentally, they always find a way to keep me motivated. It’s definitely paid off. My friends and teammates are amazing too. They’re always cheering me on, whether it’s on the pool deck or from home, and I’m very grateful for them. 

Favorite hype song? 

“Power” by Kanye West.

Any favorite memories from a meet?

My team usually does a team dinner when we have a meet, and those are so much fun. I also love competitions in general because of the people you meet. It’s always a very fun experience, and you can learn a lot, especially this year at Zones. I got to see Tyler Downs (who dove at the Tokyo Olympics), which was really cool. 

You recently announced that you have verbally committed to Harvard for diving. How did you go about the recruiting process? 

After sophomore year, you’re allowed to contact college coaches, so I emailed a bunch and started talking to them. I continued to stay in touch with the Harvard coach. We regularly had Zoom calls just to get to know each other, and eventually, I got the opportunity to go on a recruiting trip where I got to see the campus and meet the team, which was so much fun. A week later, the dive coach called me, gave me an offer, and I verbally committed.

What other schools were you looking at? How did you know that Harvard was the right fit for you?

I was talking to most of the other Ivy League schools, but I always knew that Harvard was number one on my list. I loved talking to the coaches, and when I met the team on my recruiting trip, I knew for sure that Harvard was where I wanted to be. 

What was your reaction when you were offered? 

It was so exciting and absolutely amazing. I felt relieved to be done with the recruiting process, knowing I committed to a school that I’ve always wanted to go to. 

What do you plan to study in college? 

I won’t have to declare a major until sophomore year, but I know I want to do something math- or science-related.

What is your favorite class this year? 

AP Biology. I love the class and the teacher!