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July 20, 1984 - Image 19

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1984-07-20

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Diving for gold

Bruce Kimball
They call him the Comeback Kid. But
something like "Kid Consistency" may
be an even more appropriate label for
Bruce Kimball
Except for that agonizing seven-
month recuperation period in 1981-82
that earned him his colorful nickname,
Kimball has been a model of steady
diving. A quick look at Kimball's record
reveals a sea of firsts and seconds, par-
ticularly in his speciality, the 10-meter
platform. CBS commentator Jack
Whitaker described Kimball
best-"Consistent as a jewel."
Though the injuries Kimball suffered
in that tragic auto accident prevent him
(at least temporarily) from executing
the more difficult dives, his near-
perfect, splashless dives consistently
earn him more raw style points than his
celebrated rival, Greg Louganis.
But Louganis has the edge because
style points are multiplied by the
degree of difficulty to determine total
score in diving.
"The way it is," said Dick Kimball,
Bruce's coach and father, "Bruce has
to outdive Greg by 50 points in raw
score."
So for the time being, Kimball fights
the uphill struggle to best his chief foe
solely on style points. But once in Los
Angeles, Kimball insists the rivals
become a team-US against the world.
"It's not gonna be a rivalry," Kim-
ball said of the Olympics, shortly after
the diving trials this year. "We're good
for each other."
-PAUL HELGREN
Ron Merriott
Between his junior and senior years of
high school Ron Merriott attended a
summer camp that would change his
sport, and ultimately his life.
Already a champion in the now-
obscure sport of trampoline, Merriott
journeyed to Dick Kimball's diving
camp in Brandon, Fla. Just a few short
weeks and Merriott was hooked on a
new sport.
"KIMBALL'S CAMP is what did it for
me," Merriott once said. "After that I
knew I wanted to be a diver and come to
Michigan because Kimball was the
coach I wanted to trainunder."
The Kimball magic had charmed
another outstanding athlete into the
fold of divers that has included three
Olympic gold medal winners. Though
Merriott was world champion on the
trampoline he forsook the springs for
the springboard.
During his senior year of high school
he began competing in his new-found
endeavor. By his senior year at
Michigan in 1982 he was the NCAA's
best in the three-meter springboard.
Today he is an Olympian in that event,
among Americans second only to the
diving demi-god, Greg Louganis.
Merriott, 24, has indeed risen
quickly in a sport dominated by life-
long diving wunderkinds like Louganis,
who won a silver medal at the '76
Olympics in Montreal at the tender age
of 16. Louganis is, of course, the over-
whelming favorite to cop the gold in this
summer's classic.
But Merriott wil be there, giving it his
best shot. And if Louganis should falter,
perhaps a former trampoline champion
will slip into the Olympic spotlight.
- PAUL HELGREN

Kimball at a glance
NAME:Bruce Kimball.
BORN: June 11, 1963 (AnnArbor).
NUMBERS: 5'8", 135 pounds.
SCHOOL: Junior, University of Michigan.
OLYMPIC EVENT: 10-meter platform, August 11-12.
HIGHLIGHTS:
1976-Finished 14th in the 10-meter platform Olympic trials at the age
01 13.
198-High school All-American as a freshman; finished seventh in the
10-meter at the World Championship Trials.
1979-Took first in the one- and three-meter springboard and in the 10-
meter platform at the Canadian Winter Nationals; claimed second at the
National Sports Festival and third at the Pan American Trials in the 10-
180-Finished fifth and 10th in the 10-meter and three-meter, respec-
tively, at the Olympic Trials; captured first of six U.S.A. Senior Nationals
titles in the 10-meter; made U.S. Diving All-American for first of five
times.-
181-Made High School All-American for fourth and final time; swept
all three events at the World Age Group Meet (ages 15-17); kept a perfect
record in the 10-meter at the U.S.A. Age Group Nationals with his seventh
title in seven tries.
1982-Finished second in the 10-meter at the National Sports Festival.
1983-NCAA All-American; named "Michigan Athlete of the Year" by
the Meadowhooh Country Cub; finished second at the Pan-American
Games and fistatmthe Los Angeles Initational in the 10-melee.
1984-NCAA All-American; qualified for the U.S. Olympic team in the

The Michigan Daily - Friday, July 20, 1984 - Page 19
Raising Ilel
/,ByPAUL HELGREN
Kimball,'M' divers .. .
... their turn in spotlight
IF YOU WILL notice, Michigan's Olympic divers are
prominently featured on these two pages. At first I
questioned the inequity of this-after all, there are seven
other athletes associated with the University that will com-
pete in Los Angeles.
But then I figured, hey, why not? It's not often athletes
from so-called minor sports grace this sports section. Under
the deluge of football, basketball and hockey, great athletes-
like divers Bruce Kimball, Christina Seufert and Ron
Merriott - are occasionally overlooked.
And if ever there was a time to compensate for that
negligence, now is that time. The Olympics are indeed the
biggest mediagaggle in sports. ABC-TV tells us that
somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.5 billion people will wat-
ch some part of the Games. That comes to about 15,000 filled
Michigan Stadiums. So any extra praise for the
divers-probably the University's best chance for a
medal-is well deserved.
A troika for Kimball
Not enough praise can be heaped on Dick Kimball these
days. The Michigan and co-Olympic diving coach pulled off a
triple-coup when three of his divers qualified for the Summer
Games. A host of other Kimball divers-including Kent
Ferguson and Vicki Kimball-failed to qualify but made
noble showings at the diving trials in Indianapolis two weeks
ago.
Placing athletes on The Team is
nothing new for Kimball. Thirteen
Kimball pupils have reached such
heights in previous Olympiads, in-
cluding three gold and one silver
medalists. Kimball has either been
Olympic coach or had divers on the
team every Olympiad since 1964. But
this year has to be special. This year
Dick Kimball will watch his son Bruce
plummet from the 10-meter tower in
Los Angeles.
"Yeah, it's a thrill," said the 49-year- Kimball
old Kimball of his son's Olympic
qualifications. "It was nice to see Bruce make it. It's always
nice when it's your own flesh and blood."
The young Kimballs arrival marks the culmination of
years of labor by both father and son. The training has been
year-round, both at the University's Matt Mann pool and at
Kimball's own training center in Brandon, Fla.
The pool in Brandon looms large in the success of the Kim-
ball Divers. It, unlike Matt Mann, is equipped with a 10-meter
platform, which happens to be Bruce Kimball's area of ex-
pertise. The Brandon pool is also where young divers, often in
awe of Kimball, come to learn from one the premier diving
coaches on the planet.
"Most kids come to the camp afraid of Dick," said Kim-
ball's wife Gail, herself a former diving instructor. "But
most of them end up endearing themselves to him."
One reason for this initial fear, it seems, it the mystique of
the "tower." An imposing sight from 10 meters (about 33
feet), the platform has inflicted a healthy dose of vertigo on
more than one diver. And because Kimball specializes in the
tower, many incoming divers have the misguided notion that
he will force them to attempt the breath-taking plunge.
Seufert: 'I was afraid of him . ..'
1984 Olympian Seufert is a good example of a young diver
who came to Kimball's camp with a quivering lip. Though
she now speaks of Kimball with unabashed adulation, she
confessed that during those first few days she stepped lightly
around him.
"He's not a big man (5'5/") but he has a look of authority
to him," said Seufert, who first met Kimball at age 16. "I was
afraid of him at first. He was Dick Kimball and I associated
him with the tower. There's something intimidating about
that."
Seufert got over her initial trepidation to become Kimball's
second two-time Olympian (gold medalist Micki King was
the other). Although she burns for a chance to capture the
coveted gold, Seufert would be content with what she's
already achieved. And, she insists, none of it would have been
possible without Dick Kimball
"I couldn't have done it without him. We did it together."

Merriott at a glance
NAME: Ronald Merriott.
BORN: May 24, 1960 (Rockford, Ill.).
NUMBERS: 5'8", 158 pounds.
SCHOOL: Attended Michigan 1979-82. Plans to graduate after this sum-
mer.
OLYMPIC EVENT: Three-meter springboard, August 7-8.
HIGHLIGHTS:
1078-Finished fourth in the one-meter springboard and .fifth in the
three-meter at the U.S.A. Age Group DivingChampionships.
1980-Took first in the one-meter at the Big Ten championships.
1981-Captured second at both the indoor and outdoor U.S.A. Senior
Nationals in the one-meter; picked up second in the three-meter at the
same meet; finished third in the three-meter at the National Sports
Festival.
1982-NCAA All-American; captain 'M' swimming and diving team;
finished first at the NCAA's in the three-meter and fourth in the one-
meter. U.S.A. Senior National champ in both the one- and three-meter
(indoor).
1983-First at the Austrailian Nationals in the 10-meter platform; first
in the U.S.A. Senior Nationals in the one-meter.
1984-Second in the America Cup in the three-meter; qualified for the
U.S. Olympicteam in the three-meter.

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