COLUMBIA — As children, Rebekah Laupp and her brother enjoyed the thrill of swimming with Beluga whales at Sea World on a family vacation to Texas. But it was another part of that visit that influenced Laupp's future.
"We went to see some type of dolphin show that included people diving off of different objects and platforms," Laupp said. "It made me want to learn those tricks. I wanted to do that when I grew up."
Now, Laupp is a 17-year-old senior at Hickman High School who competes on the Kewpies' diving team.
“I train year round, but I compete in the winter at school.” said Laupp, who is also a member of the Missouri Diving Club. “I really got into diving, and once I found there was a team I joined.”
Laupp competed Thursday through Sunday at the 2011 USA Diving Summer Junior Zone C Championships at the Mizzou Aquatic Center. Diving clubs from all over the Midwest showed up to compete. The Missouri Diving Club, which is run by James Sweeney, the coach of the MU diving team, hosted the event.
“Today I will only be competing in platform because that is what I’m best at,” Laupp said before Saturday's events began. As she iced her leg to help with the shin splints that have hampered her recently, she said her only goal was to compete and not to get last place.
After several nice dives from 10 meters, Laupp ended up placing 25th in the age 16-to-18 girls platform event, missing a chance to qualify for the USA Diving Junior and Age Group National Championships in August. However, she was not deterred.
"I will definitely be diving in college," Laupp said.
Columbia divers Troy Baker and Elle Christie qualified for next month's national event with top 12 performances in their divisions. Elle Christie, age 11, placed third in the girls platform, fourth at 1 meter and seventh at 3 meters. Baker, also 11, placed 10th in the 3-meter event and 11th in the 1-meter event.