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Diving into the record books
By Lynn Rosendale

Erica DeurIt’s impossible to look at the Calvin swimming and diving records board and miss the listing E. Deur. It’s posted four times—behind every existing diving category.

“I didn’t ever imagine that I would break any records when I came here,” said senior Erica Deur, the diver behind the record-board postings. “I just wanted to be part of a sports team because I loved it.”

Breaking records has become a habit for Deur, who not only holds Calvin records in both the one- and three-meter event for six and 11 dives, but also holds both MIAA records.

Her most recent accomplishment includes breaking her own national record on the one-meter board—which she set in 2007—twice at the NCAA Division III National Championships, once in the preliminaries and again in the finals. Her finals score of 496.05 resulted in her second career national championship.  She was then named the NCAA III National Diver of the Year.

“I never think about breaking records,” said Deur. “I try to focus on getting a better score—doing the dives better than ever before.”

She not only does the dives better, explained coach Aaron Paskvan, she does dives that no one else does. “I’ve not seen another female diver do a front one and one-half with three twists,” he said. “In fact, I haven’t seen many males do that dive.”

It’s Deur’s willingness to challenge herself that makes her so good, Paskvan said. “She expects to be getting to a certain level and then when she gets there, she’s not satisfied,” he said. “She’s open to changes in her dives, and the challenge is fun to her.”

Deur admitted it’s not easy to try a new dive. “It’s very scary to get yourself to go the first time,” she said. 

Erica Deur head shotIt’s been a little easier since the completion of the new Venema Aquatic Center this past January. The training belt on the one-meter board and the bubbler  (which decreases the pool’s surface area and makes for a softer landing) in the new pool have helped. “Sometimes when I walk in this facility, I still can’t believe it,” she said. “Being able to train here for the last part of my career has been incredible.”

Formerly a gymnast, Deur began her diving career as an eighth grader.  “I was used to flipping around in the air, so that gave me a jump start,” she said.

“There is a lot of skill transfer between the two sports.”

She took third place in the state as a senior at Holland (Mich.) Christian High School. Deur came to Calvin because of the swim and dive team, she said.

“I didn’t want to be a scholarship athlete,” she said. “I wanted the opportunity to be involved in other things and be an athlete. At Calvin I didn’t have to choose between a social life and athletics; I got to do it (dive) because I love it.”

Deur believes she improved quickly at Calvin because of good coaching (Coach Paskvan was named 2009 NCAA III Women’s Diving Coach of the Year.) and a lot of team support. “It’s been great to have so many peers around me of the same faith. We all support each though prayer and our common bond of faith.

“And the coaching has been intense. This allows you to get a lot better faster. Coach uses a ton of analogies that help us understand what we need to fix.”

In fact, Deur improved so quickly she was named the MIAA’s most valuable diver as a freshman, a title she never surrendered in the following three years.

“Working with her has been a joy,” said Paskvan. “She’ll be missed not only for her strong finishes, but everything she brings in terms of relationships and leadership.”

She described the ending of her career as bittersweet. “My body is telling me it’s time to be done being an athlete; but having it truly be done, well, I’ll miss it.

This was definitely the best way to conclude my college career. I could not ask for anything more.”

Deur, who graduates with a recreation major and psychology minor in May, hopes to find a job working for a non-profit with kids and sports. She is marrying fellow Calvin senior Kyle Engbers in July.

“It’s tough to stay involved with diving once you graduate,” she said. “It’s not something you can do recreationally, but I would love to look for a coaching position sometime in the future.”