Small children sometimes hold their noses when leaping off the edge of a diving board and into the waters of a pool.
NCAA National-qualifying divers do not.
“I didn’t really consider diving before (high school),” MU diver Nicole Frazier said. “Up until the day I tried out for diving, I held my nose when I jumped in the water.”
Frazier’s top-24 finish on the platform at last year’s NCAA Nationals was a sign that she had moved past holding her nose.
Frazier, a senior co-captain, has become a role model for the other divers on the team. She qualified for the NCAA Nationals last year in the 10-meter platform despite not having a platform to practice on at MU. She was also the first female diver at Missouri to qualify for NCAA Nationals since 1981.
A native of St. Peters, Frazier was a competitive gymnast for seven years, but she was burned out on the sport by her freshman year of high school. Soon after quitting gymnastics, she tried out for her high school diving coach. He offered her a spot on the team the same day and Frazier has channeled all her energy into the sport since.
“She is a success story,” Missouri diving coach Jamie
Sweeney said. “She is an everyday, average person, (who) within three years has become a superstar.”
Sweeney, who has seen Frazier’s transformation from inexperienced high school diver to one of the best platform divers in the country, is extremely inspired by the story of her success.
“I was even more happy for (Sweeney) that I qualified for nationals than for myself,” Frazier said with an air of modesty.
Sweeney also has a tremendous amount of respect for Frazier’s work ethic in practice. He describes her as the hardest worker and the most driven person on his team by far.
“The thing I like about (Nicole) is that she is just like me,” Sweeney said. “Before I even have a chance to get frustrated with her, she is already frustrated with herself.”
Frazier, who put all her faith in Sweeney and his coaching abilities, said part of her success comes from never diving from a platform before diving for MU.
“I think learning something new is the main reason I did so well at it,” Frazier said. “I didn’t have any previous experience to be afraid of it.”
Frazier’s quick ascent has required a strong support network. Although she said she leans on her team “family” for support, she said she depends on her biological family as well.
“My mom has probably seen all my dual meets and our invitational championship meets, except for one or two of them,” Frazier said. “That includes our home meets and our travel meets.”
Frazier’s mother is there for her for even the most difficult aspect of diving.
“The hardest part about diving is when you do a bad dive or you’re not satisfied with your performance, you just have to let it go,” Frazier said. “It’s something that every diver has to learn how to do.”
In Frazier’s case, a bad dive is something that she rarely has to deal with. Her goals this season include placing in the top-eight on platform in the national championship, along with bettering her career best scores, including a 361.70 in platform that earned her second at the 2005 NCAA Zone Diving Championships.