Longhorns Olympic Trials spotlight: Drew Livingston
June 6, 2012
Elissa Schneiderman, Texas Media Relations
AUSTIN, Texas -- When Texas senior diver Drew Livingston was only four years old, his father took him to see a Texas Rangers game in Arlington. He recalls climbing what felt like a million ramps before settling in behind home plate in the upper deck. Even more, he remembers being astonished by the size of the stadium and the excitement of the crowd.
"It's my first really big sports memory. I walked out of the tunnel and I was flabbergasted," Livingston said. "When you're that small, everything seems so big. It was just so cool."
Fourteen years later, Livingston experienced another poignant sporting event that seemed to mirror his first outing at the ballpark, except this time he was an athlete rather than a spectator. Drew placed third in the 10 meter platform event at the 2008 USA Diving Olympic Trials in Indianapolis.
"Diving, for the most part, is competitive, but it isn't really a spectator sport," Livingston said. "At (the 2008 Olympic) Trials, there were a couple thousand people in the stands, and when I was on the 10 meter platform, there was a huge camera in front of me. It actually really helped me. When the lights were on and it was finals, I really thrived. That was probably my big diving moment."
Livingston's passion for diving is rivaled only by his enthusiasm for baseball. When this Cardinals fan's diving career is complete, he hopes to find a job in the world of Major League Baseball.
"If I get a book, it's usually about baseball. If I'm watching TV, it's usually about baseball," said Livingston. "There's so much to the sport beyond just watching the game that I've really latched on to. My dream is to work in a front office of a professional baseball team."
Livingston sees certain important parallels between diving and baseball.
"If you look at the mental approach to a dive compared to an at-bat, almost every pitch is a different mental deal," Livingston said. "You've got to get yourself set up and do your routine. As far as a career, I love sports and I love the competitiveness that comes from them. As a spectator sport, baseball brings a lot of joy to people. Professional baseball is a service industry. I think that's what really draws me to it."
For now, however, Livingston is focused on diving. At the 2012 NCAA Championships, he won the one meter springboard event. He also placed second on the three meter springboard and fourth on the 10 meter platform.
"It was cool to end my collegiate career with my best NCAA meet," Livingston said. "That was the kind of meet I have wanted ever since I came to Texas. I do three diving events and every year, until this year, I've had two good events and one shaky event. This year, I had three very solid events. I think that speaks for the amount of work I've done since I've come here."
Livingston is now focused solely on the three meter springboard as he prepares for the 2012 Olympic Team Trials in Seattle, Washington this June.
According to Livingston and UT diving coach Matt Scoggin, the men's three meter will be one of the most contested events at the Olympic Trials this summer. There are four or five men competing for just two roster spots. Included in the race are Texas exes Troy and Justin Dumais, as well as Livingston's synchronized diving partner Chris Colwill.
Livingston is certainly in the mix. He competes one of the most technically difficult lists of dives in the country.
"Drew is really reaching a good peak right now and it's a good time for him to be peaking," Scoggin said. "The great thing in his favor is, although there are four or five men that can get the number one or two spots in the three meter, not all of them, in my opinion, can get a medal in the Olympic Games in that event. Drew puts together his list like he can. He cannot only make the Olympic team but he can get a medal in the three meter."
Livingston will also be competing in the three meter synchronized diving event with Colwill. Theirs is an unorthodox partnership because Colwill is nearly six inches taller than Livingston.
"I think Chris jumps higher than anybody else in the United States," Livingston said. "When we train, it really forces me to work hard to even stay in the same area code as him. It's cool because we have very similar personalities. We're both really competitive. Who knows, it might lead us to the Olympics and that's why USA Diving paired us together."
Despite their contrasting body types, Livingston and Colwill are especially harmonized on several key dives.
"Surprisingly enough, with their difference in heights and Chris' jumping ability, it's amazing to see that they are so synchronized on their inward three and a half tucks, their reverse three and a half tucks, and front two and half to two twists," Scoggin said. "If you slow motion each summersault, it's uncanny."
Colwill lives and trains in Athens, Georgia. So, like many synchronized diving partnerships in the US, Livingston and Colwill only train together about four times a year.
"It helps if you can train with the other person, but synchronized diving is really about you and your partner going down the board at the same time and then doing your dives well," Livingston said. "If you stress too much about being completely in synch, you miss the dives. Our whole deal is that we start at the same time and try to jump and the same time. Then we try to do our dives. Usually that works out pretty well."
When it comes to succeeding in a diving competition, whether individually or synchronized, Livingston has learned that an uncomplicated mental state is key. He believes this is a trait divers share with other athletes.
"Golf is similar," Livingston said. "If you look at golfers and their swings, you'll see sometimes that pros make mistakes because they'll think about too many things. Really, they only need to think about one or two things that are going to put the ball on the green.
"It's the same thing with a dive. You train all these little parts of it, but in the end it's going to be simple thoughts that make it work. Mostly, I just try to simplify everything. I relax and let the adrenaline of competition raise me up."
While relaxation may be important in competition, Livingston is working hard in practice to achieve his lofty ambitions.
"Whenever I come in to train, I have my mind set on a goal and that's to get myself ready to compete at Olympic Trials, so that if the opportunity comes, I'm ready to seize it," Livingston said. "The Olympics are the pinnacle of our sport. That's where you get to dive and compete against the best in the world. I'm really a competitive person, so I'd love the chance to show what I've got to the rest of the world."