When junior Ryan Koter fractured and dislocated his elbow during gymnastics practice as a 12-year-old, he knew his career as a gymnast would never be the same. Faced with diminished prospects in that sport, he decided to try diving.
He found he could utilize many of the same skills he had learned in gymnastics without placing as much physical stress on his elbow.
"I was disappointed at first, but I fell in love with diving," Koter said. "I like it a lot better than I did gymnastics and am lucky to be able to do it.
"I think I've had more success than I probably would have in gymnastics because of that. In the end, I think it turned out to be a good thing."
Koter found success in high school diving, earning three All-American honors before choosing to attend Notre Dame for its academic reputation. A National Merit Finalist in high school, he wanted to challenge himself academically and prepare for medical school.
"Notre Dame was kind of a school I had always wanted to go to," Koter said. "I wanted to go to a place where I knew I could get a good education."
Yet Koter said balancing his majors in French and Science Pre-Professional with Division I diving has not been easy.
"It's difficult to spend as much time studying as you would like at the end of the day when you woke up early for practice and practiced again in the afternoon," Koter said. "It's been very difficult, but not impossible."
Koter said mental toughness has been the key to both his diving and academic success.
"It helps to get in a zone," Koter said. "Diving is a pretty mental sport. Overcoming mental barriers is really the key to doing well."
Finishing ninth in the 3-meter event at the Big East championships in February, Koter recorded his lowest place overall at the championships in his collegiate career.
"I didn't have as good a Big East meet as I would have liked," Koter said. "I think the pressure got to me somewhat."
For Koter, this season has had a different feel than his others on the team.
"This season was a bit of struggle for me," Koter said. "It wasn't everything I'd expected or hoped it would be. I've trained better and have definitely become a better diver. It just hasn't translated into results."
Koter hopes next weekend's NCAA Zone championships will offer him a chance to redeem his Big East performance.
"Hopefully, I can relax a little more this weekend and just enjoy diving," Koter said. "I'm just looking to improve on where I hoped I would have been at Big East."
Koter will travel to Bloomington, Ind., with the rest of the Irish diving team to compete at the NCAA Zone championships Friday through Sunday.
Contact Jonathan Warren at email@example.com