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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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For diver, one phrase matters: ‘I can do this’

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Freshman Tyler Henschel competed in three diving events at the NCAA Championships which ended March 28. 

“I can do this, I can do this, I can do this.”

Tyler Henschel repeated the phrase over and over as he prepared for his final platform dive at the Zone D Championships. 

After dominating the SEC during most of the season, the Texas A&M freshman diver struggled at the Zone D meet, but still managed to squeeze his way into the NCAA Championships with a ninth-place finish in the three-meter dive and an 11th-place finish in the one-meter. It looked as if he wouldn’t qualify for the platform, however.

As he was getting ready to attempt his dive, Henschel’s coach showed him how many points he would need in order to qualify.

“He was up in the stands and put up his hands. He counted seven, saying I was seven points behind, so I knew I had to make it good,” Henschel said. 

Henschel then climbed up all 33 feet of the ladder to get on the board, and then, he jumped. 

“When I performed it, it felt really good when I hit the water, but I didn’t know how well it went until I got out of the water and heard the scores,” Henschel said. “I still had to wait for the other divers to go because I was the second diver out of the 18 divers competing. I didn’t know if I was going to make it in.”

The board read 721.15 at the end of the event, which launched him into sixth place, meeting the requirement of finishing in the top seven.

“It was almost, in a way, like a buzzer-beater, 3-point shot from downtown in basketball that secured my spot,” Henschel said. “It was really cool watching everyone else and then looking at the scoreboard at the end, knowing that I was going to be in Iowa City for the NCAAs competing in all three boards.”

At the NCAA Championships in Iowa City, Iowa, which ended Saturday, Henschel finished 19th in the platform dive with a score of 357.65. The freshman placed 33rd and 38th in the preliminaries for the one-meter and three-meter dives.

Henschel grew up a gymnast and began diving at 14, which is late for most divers. Since he had such a late start, one of his coaches told him when he was just starting that he wouldn’t make it to nationals. Henschel said this has helped motivate him in a positive way throughout his career.

“I proved him wrong, and before I knew it, I was competing in junior and senior nationals,” Henschel said. “When someone tells you that you can’t do something, you work your tail off and prove them wrong. After all these years, I still tell him, ‘Remember when you told me I wouldn’t make it to nationals?’ We have a laugh about it.”

Henschel is from Sherwood Park in Alberta, Canada. He redshirted during the 2014 season and, in his first year with the Aggies, has earned SEC Diver of the Week honors twice to go with 14 regular season victories. He swept the one-meter and three-meter during six of the team’s nine dual meets this season.   

The Canadian’s season bests are 391.05 in the one-meter, which makes him sixth best in Texas A&M history, 433.43 in the three-meter, which puts him at fourth, and 425.65 in the platform dive, which places him third among Aggie divers.

Henschel is also a member of the Canadian national team and has competed for the country internationally in events such as the Canada Cup and the FINA Diving Grand Prix in Bolzano, Italy.

One of the main reasons he decided to come to A&M was because of his mentor, former A&M diver Eric Sehn, who graduated in 2008 and competed in the 2012 Olympics. Henschel received offers from schools all over the country, but he has no doubt that he made the right choice coming to Texas A&M. 

“The team is great,” Henschel said. “It’s a great atmosphere; it’s very different here than anything I’ve ever experienced. Back home in Canada, swimming and diving are always separate, but here they are combined. The team is like a brotherhood. During your ups and downs, your teammates are always there supporting you.”

Henschel plans to graduate from Texas A&M with a degree in sports management and aspires to compete in the 2020 Olympics.

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