Sydney Bluestein ’21 and the rest of the diving team traveled to Phillips Exeter Academy on January 13 with the same goal: to win. But Bluestein had more than just winning on her mind, since January 13 also marked her late father’s birthday. She was diving for him, and that was evident after just her first dive.
Bluestein said, “Up until Exeter, I really hadn’t found confidence in myself. I was focusing on the things I wouldn’t do right, but at Exeter, I took it one dive at a time and found strength in myself.”
Bluestein ended up obliterating the long-standing Exeter pool record. The former Exeter pool record was held by Deerfield diver Danielle DeNunzio since 2012. Bluestein scored a full 10.3 points higher, finishing with a 293.25. The six dives she performed were a forward 1½ somersault, a forward 2½ somersault, an inward 1½ somersault, a reverse dive, a back 1 ½ somersault, and a back 1 somersault with 1½ twists.
Breaking records during dual meets is no small feat for a ninth grader, but it is not unheard of for members of Deerfield’s swim and dive team. Bluestein’s Green Key, Nikita Pelletier ’20, broke two school records last year, including one that was held for over 20 years. Bluestein commented, “[Pelletier] has been the best possible role model for me.” Bluestein also expressed gratitude for her teammates, who have been there for her since her Spring Visit Day. Bluestein also acknowledged fellow diver Monet Meyer ’19 as someone who has “been a really great role model for [her] since revisit day,” and helped her adjust to the team.
Before Deerfield, Bluestein found success on the national level, placing top 8 in her region, qualifying her for nationals. Training at this higher level includes more conditioning and longer practices than she experiences at Deerfield, but Bluestein said that during practice, “we make the most out of the time we have”.
This year the diving team had many new additions to the team, including many students who had never dove before. Bluestein has loved working with the first-year divers, and they reciprocate. Morgan Clough ’20 said, “Bluestein is such a dedicated diver and she always strives to be the best she can be.”
Bluestein has noted that since the Exeter meet, she has “never been this calm while competing, and it has been allowing [her] to dive in a way [she] never has before.” This has proven to be true in her undefeated record in meets since Exeter.
Coach Jason Cook described Bluestein as “very positive and [bringing] a lot to the table.” Looking ahead to New Englands, Mr. Cook said, “Every one of our girls, including Bluestein, has a chance to go top five at New Englands.”