by Tyler Roaix
Being a star in diving was never in the plans for Annemarie Durham. In fact, the Central Connecticut senior’s love for the pool came to be essentially by accident.
Durham’s mother pressured her to find a sport going into high school in order to better “integrate with the other students.” Her original passion was in gymnastics, but her high school did not offer it as a sport, which she admitted made her very upset.
One day, Durham and her brother were at the community pool in East Lyme, the site of a local club diving practice. The coach of the club saw Durham doing flips in the water and offered her a free diving lesson. Since that day, diving has been her passion.
Not only has she become a star, but a leader as well. Central has won three NEC championships during Durham’s career. With Durham at the center of the team’s success, she has grown accustomed to her role as a leader of the team.
“I 100 percent embrace it. When people look up to me, of course I want to help them be successful at what they are trying to accomplish, but it also helps me too. It’s reassurance that what I am doing is right and to keep pushing through,” Durham said. “It helps me get through the tough practices or tough meets. Being strong for someone else also helps me be strong for myself.”
CCSU diving coach Dave Maliar also spoke to Durham’s leadership, saying how she has had a lasting effect on seemingly everyone she has come across.
“[Durham] has been an amazing role model for her friends, her teammates, my own children and even me. She steps up when she is needed and works through the hardest of times. She is a true leader,” Maliar said.
Durham admitted that life as a student-athlete has been “an adjustment for sure.” Going into college, she knew her focus had to primarily be on her education, but also on diving. Her goal, she said, was to maintain a 3.5 GPA while also giving her all in the pool. She admitted that the structured schedule of practices and classes has made it an easy transition for her.
She won the award for Outstanding Diver at the NEC Championships last week for the second year in a row. Durham also defended her title in the one-meter and three-meter diving events, including setting a CCSU and NEC record in the three-meter.
Durham shared what the success she has achieved in her career at CCSU, especially in the last two years, has meant to her.
“It is honestly amazing. It is one thing to be told all throughout high school and the first two years of college that you have so much potential and then to have it finally pay off and show itself is very fulfilling,” Durham said. “It is such a satisfying feeling that all the hard work I put into the sport is repaying me in a way. I would consider myself to be very impatient, so this athletic experience has definitely helped me gain patience and to trust the process.”
With the achievements Durham has racked up over the last four years, it would be safe to assume that she has had a positive college experience.
“I could not have asked for a better collegiate diving experience. Even though I had a few changes in coaches along the way, each and every one of them has molded me into who I am today,” Durham said. “Even outside of diving, my life has been enriched by the environment I have been immersed in and the people that have been there for me every step of the way. I could not thank [them] enough.”
Durham did face some adversity in the middle of her senior season when she suffered a concussion, according to Maliar. But the coach admitted that the injury may have ultimately turned her into an even better diver, due to the work she needed to put in in order to come back from it.
“It took her two months to get back in the game full swing, and I think for anyone else this would have been a devastating blow. We took a different approach out of fear that she would re-injure herself and took out some of her more difficult dives on three-meter. We worked on perfecting her entries and jumps more than anything, and she became a stronger, more elegant diver.”
With Durham’s career at Central coming to a close in just two months, it is hard to imagine what the team will look like next year without her. Her leadership and skills have made her one of the best Blue Devils to ever step in the pool.