Wesleyan junior Jacob Price started his state meet with a bang, ripping a confident inward 1 ½ that had been a consistent strength in recent practices.
He worked steadily through the next five preliminary round dives to earn a place in the finals.
The second time through his repertoire went even better. Until the last one.
“It was odd because it was probably one of my most consistent dives of the season,” said Price, who got an unusually early jump on the sport at age 4. “I don’t know. I just messed up. So that was disappointing, but I was still happy with how it all ended up.”
Price, the Daily Post’s boys Diver of the Year, finished third in Class A-AAA for the second straight year. His podium finish, though it didn’t end on the highest note, provided the Wolves with the spark they needed to come in second overall.
“Jacob is more than an amazing diver,” Wesleyan head swimming coach Kevin Kadzis said. “He is just an all around fantastic person.
“Unselfish and well balanced with a great perspective, he is a three-sport athlete while taking an extremely rigorous academic course load. He is an exemplary member of not only the Wesleyan swim and dive team, but of our entire community.”
Price kept to his routine of blocking out his surroundings and the standings during the opening session of the state meet at Georgia Tech’s aquatic center.
“It was a little more pressure than usual because I was the only diver for Wesleyan,” he said. “I really wanted our team to get second this year. Second, to most of us, is like getting first because Westminster is just so incredible. There’s just no chance. So I really wanted to help us get second. I knew my points definitely mattered a lot.”
Westminster senior Alex York finished less than five points ahead of Price, but it wasn’t about trying to keep pace with the three-time defending champs. Westminster won by almost 300 points. The Wolves took a major step up from finishing third by a small margin in 2019 and Price’s points acted as the catalyst.
“It was actually a very chill vibe at the meet,” he said. “I would do my dive, run over to (coach Jonathan Nye), talk to him, run to the other side, put my towel on, my noise-canceling headphones and listen to music.
“It calmed me for all my dives.”
Price avoids hearing his own scores, dipping back under the water while they’re announced and then getting out of the pool. At a meet, he doesn’t watch the replays on the small sideline TV.
“And I was trying not to watch the other divers or the scoreboard,” he said. “I didn’t want to psych myself out.
“I’m laser focused on the next dive once I get done with the previous one.”
A few years ago, though, Price needed to diffuse his focus. He grew up diving, benefiting from living at St. Ives where the sport was a dynasty. The team won the Greater Atlanta Diving League championship for 22 straight years from 1990-2012. All three of his older sisters dove as well.
In eighth grade, Price felt like it had become his sole identity and decided to stop diving year-round. He puts diving aside in the fall and spring to run cross country and track. He’s on Wesleyan’s honor council, a school ambassador and competes in mock trial.
Price returns to the pool to coach summer league for the neighborhood team and the lessons learned diving unquestionable bleed into the rest of his endeavors.
“A lot of pain tolerance, I will admit is something I have gained from it,” he said with a chuckle. “But also this year especially, a lot of leadership experience has come from it. With the freshmen, encouraging wherever I can and helping them to get better. You could really see their improvement over the season this year and I thought that was so cool.
“And just mental strength that you can used anywhere in your life. You know sometimes things are not going to work out the way you want them to, but you just have to keep trying and practicing.”