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Kesha Naylor: Dominating the boards

01/16/2013
Athletic Communications
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At the age of 5 Kesha Naylor began to beg her mother to let her try diving. Naylor was involved in gymnastics, but her mother felt she was just two young to begin diving. The Saskatchewan, Canada native would sit out and watch her older brother dive in envy. After a year and a half of begging, Naylor’s mother finally gave in, and at the age of 7 she began diving.

Little did she or her mother know then that she would eventually move to the United States to further pursue her diving career.

“I had teammates that came to America for diving on scholarships throughout the country and I had seen other divers from Canada go to the states,” Naylor said. “We don’t have scholarships so, if we wanted to continue diving and have that opportunity it was to look into the states.”

So Naylor decided to see what was out there and she was pleasantly surprised when she visited Fayetteville, Ark.

“I came on a recruiting trip and I absolutely loved it,” Naylor said. “I toured the campus and it was beautiful, the team was awesome, they seemed like so much fun and they were supportive. They loved being here, they loved the school and I just loved the entire atmosphere.”

Once Naylor committed to Arkansas she got right to work when she arrived on campus.

“I got here and I had a lot of work to do and it was a major change obviously,” Naylor said. “I’m from Canada and moving to the states and then college classes. My diving dramatically improved, Dale is a good coach and I have just loved it since the day I got here.”

Head Diving Coach Dale Schultz explained that when Naylor came on campus they immediately began working on perfecting her craft. Naylor was already able to dive on all three boards, but they wanted to refine some of her techniques.

It didn’t take long.

By her sophomore year Naylor was breaking school records. She broke the three-meter diving record twice last season, setting the Arkansas Natatorium record with a score of 352.80, placing first in the event by more than 48 points. Naylor would best her Arkansas record with a score of 360.60 against Penn State and Navy at Penn State. Her performance earned her SEC Diver of the Week honors for the fourth time in her career.

This year against Penn State Naylor nearly broke her record again, posting a 355.75 on the three-meter board. The junior now owns the top-5 scores in school history on the three-meter board.

Though the junior currently owns the one-meter and three-meter board school records she doesn’t think her work is done yet.

“I want to break my records again, and improve my diving. At SEC’s I was in third going into the finals on tower, I would like to get on the podium on all there events,” Naylor said.

Naylor would also like to get her name on the school platform record, which is currently held by Liana Bugslag, with a score of 297.98.

Naylor recorded her first-ever win at a major invitational this season when she bested 35 other divers on the platform to take the win with a score of 276.

"The goal is to make the NCAA Championships,” Schultz said of Naylor. “This year we only have seven spots in our Zone, which makes it a little bit tougher, but our goal is to make it to the NCAA Championships. We also want her to make it into the top-three in all three events at the SEC Championships.”

Those are lofty goals for Naylor, but it’s her confidence and dedication that have made everything possible so far.

You can catch Naylor and the Razorbacks in action this weekend as they take on South Carolina and Florida State in a double-dual meet this Friday at 4 p.m. CT at South Carolina and when they take on Davidson this Saturday at 10 a.m.


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