MU freshman diver having early success

Thursday, December 4, 2008 | 6:21 p.m. CST; updated 7:54 p.m. CST, Thursday, December 4, 2008

COLUMBIA — For Jordan Morcom, diving comes with an ease most people find while riding a bike.

At least that's what Missouri diving coach Jamie Sweeney claims about his freshman star. Morcom may make diving look as effortless as a Sunday trail ride, but rarely does a typical bike ride take place 10 feet above the ground and involve two and a half twists in the air.

Sweeney's point remains, however. Morcom has mastered making the difficult look easy.

In just her first month of collegiate competition, the freshman from Grapevine, Texas, used her extensive diving history and past successes to overcome the transition to college and became the Big 12 Conference Diver of the Month for October.

That extensive history began at age 8 when Morcom's parents received a newsletter from her elementary school about diving lessons. The Morcoms thought that the lessons would be a perfect outlet for their energetic daughter.

"I had always been an acrobatic girl," Morcom said. "I could never just walk. I always had to tumble around the house. I was always so hyper, so my parents thought I should try it."

The simple suggestion landed Morcom at the diving club that she would be a part of for the next decade. From then until she arrived at MU, Morcom never changed coaches and was surrounded by many of the same athletes.

Much of that time was spent competing at the highest levels of youth diving in the United States. Morcom was a member of the U.S. Junior National Team while in Texas, and participated in the Junior Olympics program in the 16-and-under age group.

But all the diving success in the world couldn't have prepared Morcom for her biggest challenge — college life.

"Senior year of high school, you're in a grade, and you know everyone in your grade," she said. "You're in one spot, one school. Here, you're in different building for each class, and you don't really know anyone."

With time, however, Morcom's personality and willingness to branch out made the uneasiness turn into a freedom that she has come to enjoy.

"I've always been an outgoing girl," she said. "I didn't really change my attitude. I kept it the same. I was loud, and I like to meet people anyway. It was a good experience."

While Morcom admits that it took a few months to acclimate to college, her transition in swimming was much quicker. Morcom says her teammates made her feel "like part of the family" right away, and Sweeney's approach to coaching was a welcomed change from her club coach who was particularly intense.

"Jamie's more inspirational," Morcom said. "He's more upbeat. He's with you 100 percent. He's always motivating you."

After her first week of competition, it looks like that motivation is paying dividends.

Morcom swept the 1- and 3-meter dives against No. 9 Texas A&M on Oct. 23, and teamed with senior Kendra Melnychuk to win gold in the 3-meter dive at the next day's Big 12 Relays.

According to Sweeney though, it has less to do with his motivation and more with the constant success that Morcom has experienced.

"She comes to college, and it doesn't really matter that it's another arena," Sweeney said. "She's been winning her whole life, so she just expects that she's supposed to win."

In meeting those expectations, Morcom was named the Big 12 Diver of the Month after just two collegiate meets.

"It was exhilarating," Morcom said of the award. "It was so exciting because I'd only been to two competitions. For all the Big 12 coaches to nominate me, it was a big deal."

Three days after receiving the honor Morcom proved that her success wouldn't be limited to a single month. Morcom scored a 298.58 in the 3-meter competition, earning another individual victory in MU's win over Kansas on Nov. 1.

With so many top finishes this early in her career, it would be easy for Morcom and her coaches to become complacent. But Sweeney's expectations for the freshman don't stop with dual-meet victories.

"To be honest with you, how hard she's trained through the years is why she's being successful right now," he said. "But in terms of what I'm trying to do with her, where me and her are trying to go, to peak, we've only just begun. We're not even close to this being the climax of her career. We haven't even started."


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