By Michelle Miller
---- — A Cooperstown junior is really making a splash in the pool this season — especially from the diving board.
Aaron Idelson won the Section Three Class C diving championship on Saturday at Mexico. He scored a personal-best 331.80 points with his 11 dives and placed sixth among Class B and C divers. Including Class A divers, who competed at a different venue, Idelson finished 11th overall in the section. He said his highest scoring dive was his inward one and a half.
By finishing in the top 12, Idelson will advance to the Section Three State Qualifiers, which will be held Saturday at Hamilton College.
Idelson said he was proud to be named the first Section Three Class C champion. Class C was added this year.
“Overall it was an awesome experience and I’m really glad I have one more year to grow and compete,” he said.
According to Idelson, he became interested in diving when attending a camp at Hartwick College when he was going into seventh grade.
“At that time it was mostly just for fun. I really did not know how far I would go,” said Idelson, who said he started diving competitively as a ninth-grader.
The Saturday match was not just a personal best for Idelson, he also broke the Cooperstown school record for an 11-dive meet. Idelson held the record already, having just broken it at the Syracuse Diving Invitational at Nottingham High School. There, his score of 317.55 beat the record of 309.95 set by Gregg Lot in 2000. The teen has broken the district record twice for a six-dive meet.
“It feels like I am finally accomplishing something,” he said of his success this season. “All the hard work is paying off.”
Idelson missed the The Section Three diving championship on Feb. 9 because he was on a school trip to see the presidential inauguration. He said it was a sacrifice, but one he made because the trip was already paid for.
“I still have next year for it, so that is good,” he said.
The Cooperstown boys varsity swim coach Cheryl Rock said she feels Idelson’s overall ranking on Saturday was truly impressive. However, she said she is doubtful he will be able to reach the score needed (420) to continue on to states.
Rock said Idelson is the only 11-dive competitor for Cooperstown this season.
“The big thing this year is he really upped his DDs (degree of difficulties) so that they could score higher,” Rock said. “Now instead of only being able to do one somersault, he is able to do like two and a half. That is the big difference from what he can do this year compared to last year.”
Every year, Idelson gets better.
“He works hard during the off season and during the season,” she said.
Rock said Idelson has taken it upon himself to become a competitive diver. She said the teen attends one or two camps each summer and takes lessons from a Hartwick College diving instructor.
“He has really been gaining self-confidence and his dives continue to get better and better,” Rock said.
Idelson, who also runs track for Cooperstown, said his goal is to improve even more next year. He said although he loves to swim, he finds diving more exciting.
“The hardest thing for me is splitting my time up between swimming and diving and knowing what to focus on,” Idelson said. “This year, I focused more on diving. It is more fun than swimming countless laps. You get to mix it up more.”
According to Rock, Idelson is an athlete she can count on for just about any swimming event. She said he will compete in the individual medley and one of the relays with his Cooperstown teammates in the Section Three Class C Championship swimming Meet today in New Hartford.