Defying gravity


IU senior Christina Loukas prepares to hit the water during a dive in the three-meter springboard competition during a dual meet against Purdue January 24, at the Counsilman-Billingsley Aquatic Center. Loukas won the event as the No. 13 Hoosiers won 210-159. IDS file photo Buy Photos

Gracefully reaching a peak. Simultaneously kicking and unfolding. She descends toward the mass of water at speeds reaching about 15 mph.

Former IU diver and 2008 Olympic qualifier Christina Loukas is no stranger to defying

“I was shocked, then proud, then overwhelmed,” Loukas said of her victory at the 2008 Olympic trial meet.

“After I came to the realization that I was officially going to the Olympics, I was overwhelmed,” she said. “I had focused all my time on getting ready for trials that now I had to shift my attention to getting ready to compete at the biggest meet of my life that was only two months away.”

The dual-meet record holder, former Big Ten diver of the year and three-time high school state champion recently added a fourth-place finish in the world championships.

She said she is hopeful that history will repeat itself next summer at the Olympic trials event.

“This past world championships has really boosted my confidence for the upcoming Olympics,” Loukas said. “Getting fourth place showed that I can compete with the top divers in the world. Compared to my score at previous international competitions, I can see that I am starting to close the gap to the Chinese divers. I am really looking forward to this next year to see what I can do.”

Loukas now trains in The Woodlands, Texas, under the coaching of Kenny Armstrong twice a day and five times a week. She spends at least 25 hours a week in the pool.
On top of the regular training schedule, she also does yoga, pilates and cardio.

“Right now my training is pretty laid back,” Loukas said. “I took a few weeks off and am now easing back into practice. The next month or so, I will focus a lot of time on technique by doing a lot of drills and breaking down my dives into segments.”
Aside from their focus on dive performance, divers put heavy emphasis on their form and entry into the water.

Drills, routines and imitations are performed both in and out of the water in order to achieve everything from flawless form to a “rip entry” to earn high marks from judges.
“My primary focus right now is working on my entry into the water,” Loukas said. “As I get closer to trials, training will get more intense, focusing on performing my dives to the best of my ability and being consistent.”

Having reached the pinnacle of international competition diving, the 2012 Olympic hopeful is confident in her abilities.

“Before each dive in a competition, I get a few cues from my coach for me to think about,” Loukas said. “I have done my dives so many times in practice that I just focus on those cues, then let my body do the rest. You don’t want to overthink it.”

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