Diver lands spot at 2024 Olympic Trials

A deep dive into senior Luke Sitz’s success on the board
Arms to the side, senior Luke Sitz prepares to dive at a Walnut Grove meet. The meet was held in the Prosper ISD Natatorium. “Honestly, diving has impacted my life with all of the life lessons it gives,” Sitz said. “Failure is good, and you can fail at something. But, if you keep trying you’ll get it right someday.”
Arms to the side, senior Luke Sitz prepares to dive at a Walnut Grove meet. The meet was held in the Prosper ISD Natatorium. “Honestly, diving has impacted my life with all of the life lessons it gives,” Sitz said. “Failure is good, and you can fail at something. But, if you keep trying you’ll get it right someday.”
Caitlyn Ketzle

All eyes on him, senior Luke Sitz steps to the edge of the diving board. He raises his arms out to the side and takes one last breath. He flips into the air before landing in the water with minimal splash. 

 

Sitz and his synchro partner, Max Miller, qualified in June for the diving Olympic Trials by placing second at a National Competition. The Olympic Trials will be held in Tennessee in June 2024. Training for six years, Sitz exhibits his found talent through his club at the Dallas Diving Metroplex. He competes for both Walnut Grove High School and Southern Methodist University. Sitz, a natural athlete from the start, continues to improve his skills.

“I feel like when I first started flipping, it was just kind of natural,” Sitz said. “But my form sucked.”

Story continues below advertisement

At eleven-years-old, Sitz decided to attend an introductory diving lesson for beginners. After seeing the excitement on her son’s face, Cami Sitz decided to sign Sitz up for an hour-long lesson per week.

“We started noticing early he’s got some athletic talent,” Mrs. Sitz said. “So, we were like, okay, let’s go ahead and put him in sports.”

“There are few athletes more gifted as Luke Sitz. The most impressive thing about Luke is that if there was ever an athlete that has earned the right to have an ego it would be him, but he is the most humble athlete in the world. He fits in with every member of our team and is a great leader for our program”

— Walnut Grove Diving Coach, Chip Peeples

Seven weeks into diving lessons, Sitz’s diving coach pulled his mother aside and recognized the same potential that she saw in her son.

“The coach said we gotta put him on the team,” said Mrs. Sitz.  “His coach said ‘he has some natural talent, and he does everything I asked him to do. He has no fear.’”

Although there was a clear natural talent, Sitz still started later than the other divers. Nevertheless, Sitz enjoyed diving.

“I couldn’t do anything form-related,” Sitz said. “I would just throw myself off the board, and it was fine. It was great.” Sitz said.

With hard practice and repetition, Sitz began to master the art of flipping.

“I guess once you get the physical part down, it’s easy,” said Sitz. “Dives are still hard, and if you mess up, it hurts. You have to get over the fear of messing up.”

Moving slightly in one direction or another, a diver might find themselves throwing off the dive. Despite the pressure, Sitz remains calm, leaving the worry at the moment.

“I kind of just do my own thing,” Sitz said. “If you make superstitions, it might not always be there, and then you’re like, ‘Oh, I’m gonna mess up now.’”

Three days before he was set to compete at Nationals, Sitz got news that one of the synchro divers set to compete broke his ankle, leaving Sitz to unexpectedly take his place.

“They had a day to practice with each other, literally,” said Mrs. Sitz. “And then that Friday night, they wanted to try to beat the top team to qualify to go to court for the Pan Am [American] Games.”

If Sitz won Nationals, he knew he would have a shot at winning the Pan American Games. It was Sitz’s first time competing in synchro diving and winning a place in the Olympic Trials was the furthest thing in his mom’s mind.

“That wasn’t even on my radar,” said Mrs. Sitz. “And then it was just so shocking. So, that was pretty cool, especially since he’d been diving for Synchro for only one day.”

Over a hundred of the best divers in the nation are selected to go to the Olympic trials. Only 136 divers will make it to the 2024 Olympics, which will be held in Paris, France, from Jul. 26 to Aug. 11.

Medal in hand, Senior Luke Sitz poses for a picture with his Synchro Partner, Max Miller. This photo was posted on @wghs_aquatics on July 29, 2023. The caption reads, “Congratulations to Luke Sitz for qualifying for the Olympic Trials!! Luke finished 2nd at US Junior Nationals in 3M Synchronized Diving! (and only practiced with his partner for 1 day!) We are so proud of Luke and know this is only the beginning ! Next stop, Trials, then Olympics!!” (wghs_aquatics )

“You have to qualify to go to the Olympics using the trial. If we get into the finals and get first, then we will go [to the Olympics],” Sitz said. “It’s a little far-fetched now, but I guess it’s for the experience.”

The pressure from training for the Olympic Trials has challenged Sitz to think more seriously about his diving career.

“It’s really nerve-racking, but it pushed me to do better and start improving my habits,” Sitz said. “I guess it impacted me in a positive way. It made me push farther instead of just being like, ‘Oh, I did this. That’s cool.’”

A big part of Sitz’s accomplishments as a diver is the relationship built between him and the head diving coach at SMU, Darian Schmidt.

“We know each other on a personal level,” Sitz said. “He understands me, and I understand him. So there’s a good connection. He’s one of my favorite people.”

Another diver who has inspired Sitz throughout his diving journey is Davis Boudia, the 2012 Olympic diving champion.

“I want to strive to be more like him because he’s always calm and collected,” Sitz said. “He’s always focused, so just being like him would be good.”

From eleven-years-old to his senior year at Walnut Grove High School, Sitz has persevered through many struggles and setbacks throughout his diving career.

“Honestly, diving has impacted my life with all of the life lessons it gives,” Sitz said. “Failure is good, and you can fail at something. But, if you keep trying, you’ll get it right someday.”

In diving, the lesson of defeat can be a difficult process to grasp after smacking into the water multiple times.

“It was a hard lesson to learn because hitting the water hurts sometimes, and if you smack off at three meters, it sucks,” Sitz said. “I mean, you’re gonna be fine if you fall, but it hurts in the moment.”

The week before he was supposed to leave for Senior Nationals, Sitz had experienced one of these difficult lessons by landing wrong in the water last December.

“He was actually at a high school meet and landed in the water wrong. He ruptured his ear,” Mrs. Sitz said. “He called me, I’m a nurse practitioner, and said, ‘Mom, I hit the water. I can’t hear you out of my left ear.’”

Due to the condition of his ear, Sitz was unable to practice or compete in the four-meter dive for at least six months.

“It’s a sport where you can get hurt,” said Mrs. Sitz. “He was not used to being sidelined because he’s always been outgoing, and that put him to the side for a while, so that was hard mentally on him.”

Despite the setback of his injury, Sitz maintained a positive mindset and did all he could while he sat on the “sidelines.”

“Luke is a super quick witted guy that’s really fun to have around on deck. Competing alongside him in synchro was a great experience, and I’m looking forward to some of the big competitions we have lined up for the future. He knows how to balance having fun and being serious during competition, which is something I find super refreshing.”

— Max Miller, Synchro Partner

“He is the biggest cheerleader for all of his teammates and not just his team, but all the other guys,” Mrs. Sitz said. “He appreciates good diving, and if you dive well, he’s going to cheer you on.”

Whether challenging or encouraging, each experience has allowed Sitz to grow as a diver and advise people who may be going through what he has.

“If you haven’t been diving that long, you can’t expect to be as good as the people you see,” Sitz said. “That’s what I learned when I was little. I was like, ‘Why can’t I be that guy?’”

Through his success, he continues to learn and has found that practice makes perfect.

“It just takes time. So don’t rush anything,” Sitz said. “Take it slow, and don’t get mad when you’re progressing slowly because that’s how everybody is.”

Luke is set to compete at the Olympic Trials in Tennessee in June 2024.

View Comments (1)
Donate to Wildcats Wired

Your donation will support the student journalists of Walnut Grove High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributors
Caitlyn Ketzle, Editor-in-Chief
Caitlyn Ketzle is a junior at Walnut Grove High School. She currently serves as the Editor-in-Chief for Wildcats Wired, and served one year as a photojournalist on Eagle Nation Online at Prosper High School. Caitlyn is also the DASH chair person on the Executive Student Council. In her free time, she enjoys photographing school events and hanging out with friends.
Maddie Kane, Photojournalist
Maddie Kane is a sophomore at Walnut Grove High School. She moved to Prosper from Denver, Colorado last year. This is Maddie's first year on Wildcats Wired. Outside of school, she is on the Prosper Lacrosse team and enjoys hanging out with her friends and family.
Donate to Wildcats Wired

Comments (1)

All Grove Media Wired Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • V

    Vince KetzleOct 4, 2023 at 7:54 pm

    Very good article. Congrats !

    Reply