Calgary’s Aimee Wilson rediscovers love of diving

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The smile Aimee Wilson wears these days is proof that she truly loves her chosen sport.

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The thing is, the Calgarian is diving headlong into becoming a world-class athlete like never before.

“I’m happy,” Wilson said ahead of the FINA Diving Grand Prix Canada Cup, which runs through Sunday at the MNP Sports and Community Center in Calgary. “I just feel like I’m more mature and my diving has improved a lot. I’m so much more consistent. And I’m just happier.

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“Before, I didn’t know if I was going to keep diving for the next Olympic cycle.”

Now?

Well… she appears to be reborn, thanks to a major life decision – another for the 22-year-old trying to find her diving rhythm.

She has six years to go from Calgary to Toronto to pursue her diving dreams, after which she headed south to get an education in the state and make a name for herself with the NCAA team LSU Tigers.

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And then, two years ago, Wilson went west to join the NCAA’s Texas A&M Aggies – a move that made all the difference in the world under the guidance of diving coach Jay Lerew.

She says he understands her as an athlete, with happiness having become the biggest benefit of this transfer to the Southeastern Conference.

“I’ve definitely found that at Texas A&M – it’s a really happy and healthy environment,” said Wilson, who admitted to looking for a different workout and an improved team atmosphere at- beyond LSU. “I really blossomed in the pool, personally and mentally too.

“Plus, you can compete a lot more, which I think is really awesome,” continued Wilson, who is studying anthropology and will be graduating from Texas A&M in December. “You compete almost every weekend in the NCAA, which gives you a lot more competitive experience, and I think that has really helped me compete better and more consistently.

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“Being at Texas A&M, I found a new love for the sport, and that love just made diving more enjoyable. I dived better, so I can definitely see myself diving longer than I previously thought I would. I’m excited. I can’t wait to see what this cycle will bring.

His renewed passion is even higher with this week’s international meet in his hometown, where 68 of the world’s best divers – representing eight countries – challenge each other in the only Canadian leg of the 2022 Grand Prix series.

It includes a chance for Wilson to team up with decorated Canadian diver Pamela Ware, Pan Am Games gold medalist and 3-metre springboard Olympian.

“We decided to team up in synchro just a few days ago,” said Wilson, who also specializes in the 3m springboard discipline. “It’s a test right now – first time, first try here. So we’ll see how it goes.

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“It’s crazy actually,” Wilson continued of competing with her 29-year-old Quebec teammate. “It’s crazy because I’ve looked up to Pamela since I was 12. So diving next to her is kind of surreal. I’m trying to calm down and not put too much pressure on myself. But I’m really excited – we’re really good friends. I’m just excited to see how it goes.

Here’s how it went on the first day of Thursday’s Grand Prix:

• Men’s 3m Open — Brazil’s Rafael Fogaca, Britain’s Daniel Goodfellow and Canada’s Bryden Hattie finished first, second and third respectively in the Group A semi-final to advance to the weekend’s final, and Britain’s Jordan Houlder, Canada’s Bjorn Markentin and Jamaica’s Tona Knight-Wisdom finished first, second and third respectively in Group B of the semi-final to advance to the weekend finals. Canadians Laurent Gosselin-Paradis finished fourth in Bracket A, while Cebric Fofana finished fifth in Game B.

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• Women’s Open Platform – Brazil’s Ingrid Oliveira, Canada’s Celina Toth and America’s Bailee Sturgill finished first, second and third respectively in the Group A semi-final to advance to the weekend’s final, and Britain’s Lois Toulson, America’s Janie Boyle and Britain’s Robin Birch finished first, second and third respectively in Group B of the semi-final to advance to the weekend’s finals. Katelyn Fung finished fourth in Group A, while Renee Batalla finished sixth in Contest B.

“For me, I just try to get five consistent dives,” added Wilson, who was able to dive at the MNP center during the COVID-19 lockdown. “I’m looking to compete for myself and also have fun – that’s the most important part.”

Keep it up happy indeed.

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