Hamilton County training center helps divers chase Olympic dreams


ARCADIA, Ind. (WTHR) - Athletes will go to amazing lengths to turn their Olympic dreams into golden opportunities.

We found a group of divers in the tiny town of Arcadia with dreams of representing Team USA in the 2020 games.

Living in Indiana, you see thousands of barns. But you've never seen one like the one that contains Ripfest Diving Academy's dry land training center.

It offers some of the best up-and-coming divers a place to train when they aren't in the water.

After more than 3 hours of training out of the water, the 17 Ripfest Academy divers go to Hamilton Heights High School for another 3 hours of training, this time in the pool.

In order to train nearly eight hours a day, the divers don’t attend regular classes. Instead, they are home-schooled.

Nick Hart, 16, is from West Lafayette.

“I think this is even more fun than going to a normal school and sitting in a classroom, I get to do something that I love all day and every day," Hart said. “Like having everybody here be just the same and give up basically everything to do this, it's nice and it makes us all really close like a family."

Those bonds help many of the divers feel at home in the program. Many of the athletes left their families and moved across the country to pursue the Olympic dream.

"It was pretty difficult, my siblings didn't really want me to go, my dad, he didn't want me moving out here so, it was hard, said Tyler Downs, 14, from St. Louis. “It's actually really worth it. I've been to a lot of clubs and mostly they are not like fully, the commitment level is different.”

That commitment level is different because the divers each come from different skill levels. 23-year old Chelsea Jackson has already graduated from college and has her eyes focused solely on the summer games.

“I wanted to go somewhere, where I could pursue an Olympic dream, somewhere I would get full-day training and work with a group of kids that are at an elite level,” said Jackson, Flagstaff, AZ.

Ripfest Academy is the brainchild of John Wingfield, the diving coach who helped train Olympians like Jessica Parratto, Steele Johnson and David Boudia.

And that's why they come here, because they want it and we have an opportunity to give them more time to do what they love to do,” Wingfield said. “This program is a cut above because there are those dedications and sacrifices the kids have to make.”

Sacrifices made in order to achieve Olympic glory.

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