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Into the Water

Into the Water

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by Angela Garvin
photography by Justin Eiler Photography

Being a student athlete is no small feat. Between your high school classes, clubs, and athletics, you are always on the move. This is true of Camryn Appert, a student athlete from Fergus Falls.

Camryn and her family moved to Fergus Falls from Pelican Rapids, when she was four years old. The youngest of three girls, she loves having her older sisters close by, even more so now since becoming a proud aunt of a little boy.

Spending time with her family is important to her, and one of her favorite ways to do that is traveling with them. Instead of taking to the air, they have opted to take road trips to most destinations and have been to 39 states so far. They have been to the Grand Canyon, Chicago, Orlando, Niagara Falls and Washington, D.C. to name a few.

Each school year starts with the swimming and diving season for Camryn; a sport she got into after watching both of her sisters participate in it.

Her own career in the water began with swimming lessons and being a member of the Fergus Flyers Swim Club. From there, she joined the swim team, competing in the 50m backstroke, 100m freestyle and relays on occasion. It was in the sixth grade when she decided to make the switch and begin competing in diving.

During her first year on the dive team, Camryn mostly participated in exhibition diving, which meant her scores did not count towards the overall score for the team. However, it gave her a chance to acquaint herself to competing and provided her the opportunity to gain experience. It was when she reached eighth grade that she began competing at the varsity level.

At each meet she works her way through the same list of dives; including the forward, backward, reverse, twisting and inward. She strives to stick with the same dive list for each meet in order to keep the level of difficulty the same.

Camryn is one of three captains on the swimming and diving team; she is the captain of the dive side of the team, and two other girls focus on the swim side.

“We have met to discuss what we should be doing for the team this year,” Camryn said. “We have talked about how we should treat the girls, how the girls should treat each other and what we want to do throughout the year to become closer as a team.” She continued, “Being a captain is mostly being a role model and an extra person to go to with questions.”

In a sport as intricate as diving, it is important to have a coach that is very detail oriented. “He pushes us a lot and helps us overcome a lot of fear,” Camryn said of her diving coach, Mike Hartwell. “He explains the physics of the sport, such as the bend of the board, the velocity you are traveling at and how much spring to use.”

She added, “He always has an analogy for us comparing it to something.”

When it comes to rivals, the St. Cloud Tech diving team is high on her list, as is Detroit Lakes. The latter team is not just her rivals but her friends as well, as they have been competing against each other in diving and gymnastics all through their high school careers.

Camryn has placed top eight in sections every year since her freshman year for diving, as well as 2nd last year at sections. She was 5th at State last season, has qualified for the All-State award and has also been named All Conference.

“Camryn is a joy to coach. She is a gifted athlete with a kind and gentle personality who works hard to master technique,” said Hartwell, her diving coach. “She always finds a way to encourage her teammates to try dives that they fear and always puts others first. That is a great quality!”

Once the diving season is over, it is on to gymnastics for the winter season, a sport that has helped her diving career.

She participates in what is called “all-around” – four events including the vault, balance beam, floor routine and uneven bars. In the coming season, she is hoping to specialize in her favorite event, floor, and maybe compete in one or two others.

Her gymnastics coach, Erin Larson, has worked with Camryn for about ten years and has really enjoyed the experience. “It has been amazing to watch her compete from such a young age in the MAGA program, to now as a leader for the Otters,” Larson said. “She has always been a naturally talented athlete with boundless potential.”

With everything that is going on in her high school career, Camryn is very grateful for her parents and how engaged they are in everything she does. Her mom is on the gymnastics board and occasionally comes to watch her at diving practice.

Camryn is also very thankful for their efforts to keep her grounded. “They know that I am both a student and an athlete, but they help remind me that school is first, family is first, and faith is first.” Some moments stick out in a high school athletic career, and one of Camryn’s most memorable moments came during last year’s swimming and diving season when the swim team was not expected to go to State.

She knew she was going for diving, but the swim team was seated 16th in sections. Since they needed to be seated second in order to go to State, there was a slim chance they would make it.

“We have very tough sections, and they really pulled through last year,” Camryn said. “We ended up sending a relay team, and that was exciting.”

Another memory that means a lot to her is when she made it to State her freshman year, a goal she had set for herself at the beginning of that season.

Outside of her athletics, she has an interest in drawing and reading and enjoys playing the piano as well as the ukulele. She plays percussion in the high school band and sings in the choir. When it comes to academics, she likes her classes and teachers and is really looking forward to taking psychology this coming school year.

Camryn is also a member of the synchronized swimming club which takes place during the spring season, and she has coached gymnastics for younger students as well.

This past summer has been a busy one for Camryn. She attended two diving camps, one in Fergus Falls and the other at the U of M, and she also worked at Kids Kamp, a summer program organized by the city of Fergus Falls.

When it comes to thoughts of life after high school, Camryn is considering colleges around the area but is keeping her options open as she debates on whether or not she is going to continue with her chosen sports after graduation.

She is looking forward to taking a two-week trip to Europe with her family next year, which will include a stop in Norway to visit a friend who was an American exchange student.

For right now, she plans to make the most of the last of her high school athletic career, and enjoy the busy senior year she has ahead of her.