Story by Victoria Artale, Photo Editor of The Bull’s Eye
Mackenzie Kim, who spent eight years as a gymnast, has switched from flipping on a balance beam to jumping off a 10-meter platform.
The freshman is one of the two divers who represent Diamond Bar High School, despite the school not having a diving coach. Recently, Kim took 2nd place at CIF with a score of 470.80, breaking her own school record of 420.55.
“Diving for me was very similar to gymnastics because I already had the twisting and flipping skills from my years as a gymnast,” Kim said. “It was [an] easy transition, and it worked out well for me.”
From age 6 to 14, Kim represented California several times at all levels of gymnastics including competing at Level 10, the highest level at the USA Gymnastics Junior Olympics in 2018. But gymnastics became a struggle for Kim, as she continued to face back and elbow problems.
“If I could go back in time, I would tell myself to not give up on what you want to do and even if you get hurt, there is always another option,” Kim said.
Just three months after quitting gymnastics because of the multiple injuries, Kim decided to take her flexibility into the water. Because both gymnastics and diving share the same fundamentals, it didn’t take Kim long to thrive in the aquatic sport.
“Gymnastics was very hard on my body, so I decided to switch into a sport that doesn’t have me breaking my bones,” Kim said.
Kim practices with the SoCal Divers club team at California State Fullerton College with her coach Scott Rick.
While being a part of SoCal Divers, Kim has received the chance to compete in high-ranked competitions, including USA Diving Junior Nationals in Georgia.
Kim has also experienced some of the dangers associated with this sport.
“Sometimes when you’re learning a new skill, it might be terrifying because you are up high and you could mess up and smack the water,” Kim said. “That happened to me once, and I was left with welts and bruises on my back.”
With the support of her parents and her coach, Kim plans to pursue diving in college.
She is also scheduled to compete in Texas with a chance to qualify for Nationals again later this year.
“Even though you might feel intimidated sometimes and you can’t do anything anymore, just reach for your goals because nothing can get in the way of your goals besides yourself,” Kim said.