Diving runs in Calvin Speth’s family.
Even if the Kelly Walsh junior didn’t begin his athletic career as a diver.
“I started gymnastics when I was in seventh grade,” Speth said, “but it wasn’t really my thing. So my grandma was a diving coach and she thought I should try that. I started (diving) in eighth grade, and ever since then I’ve loved it.”
Obviously, Speth’s grandmother, Michelle Wistisen, knew what she was talking about. After all, she used to be the Kelly Walsh diving coach and her son, Tyler Wistisen, still holds the state diving record with a score of 491.40 points at the 2002 Class 4A state meet while competing for the Trojans.
Tuesday, Speth finished with 377.05 points to win the 1-meter competition in the annual Fish Bowl against Natrona. Speth currently has 4A’s fourth best total on 11 dives, with 387.78 points. Gillette’s Tyler Williams leads with 490.55 points.
Despite the point differential between him and Williams, Speth expects to be right there when the Wyoming State High School Swimming & Diving Championships take place later this month in Gillette.
“My ultimate goal is to win state,” Speth said. “There is some tough competition, but that just means you can get higher scores on each dive.”
Count Kelly Walsh head coach Bridger Miller as someone who believes Speth has a legitimate shot at winning it all.
“Diving at state is a whole different show,” he said. “You have to be very consistent for all 11 dives, and I think Calvin is within striking distance of being a state champion.”
After the offseason Speth and his teammates went through, winning a state title might seem far-fetched.
The Trojans’ home pool was shut down for repairs shortly after last year’s state meet and remained closed all summer and into the fall. That forced the Kelly Walsh swimmers, and divers, to get creative with their workouts.
“I did as much dryland training as I could and I visualized as much as I could,” Speth said. “I just tried to focus on everything I could to prepare for this season.”
For Speth, the dryland training involved hours in the weight room, strengthening his core and his legs “so I could push the board down and get tight entries.”
He also spent most weekends over the summer at Jump Craze Trampoline Park in Evansville, where his old gymnastics training came into play. His self-professed diving coach, his grandmother, accompanied him to help with technique and, more important, to teach him the importance of visualization.
“Visual preparation helps so much,” Speth said, “because if you can do it in your mind then you can do it on the board. She helped me realize that if you visualize every little part of your dive your body will be able to take over and know what it has to do.”
Speth finished 13th at last year’s state meet, just missing out on qualifying for the finals.
He doesn’t expect that to happen again.
“I’ve improved so much this year,” he said. “I’ve just had the mentality that I want to get things done and I want to be the best. I realize that if you put in the work you’ll have the desired outcome.”
Miller has no doubt Speth has the mentality needed to come out on top.
“What’s impressed me the most with Calvin this year is his mental toughness and confidence,” he said. “Diving is a very mental game. You’re the only one on that board in front of everybody. Calvin has gotten very, very good at handling it.”