Zach Cooper credits the song in his head with helping him earn one of his sport’s more notable accomplishments.
The Johnson County resident recently qualified to compete in the Pan American Games in Toronto after he and his partner in the synchronized diving competition, Ryan Hawkins, took second at the National Championships.
The Pan Am Games, involving countries from the Western Hemisphere, takes place July 10 through 13. Cooper will compete in both the individual and synchronized events off the 10-meter platform.
The 17-year-old also is one of the leading contenders for a berth on the USA team to compete at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.
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Cooper listens to music on his headphones between dives at competitions. He explains one song from his playlist tends to stick in his head during a meet — “Beggin” by Logic.
“Whatever song sticks in my head really comes from the flow of how things are going that day. What kind of mood I’m in,” Cooper explained. “One of them will just click and stay through the whole competition.”
Cooper was paired with Hawkins, a 24-year-old Virginia Tech graduate. Success in synchronized diving involves superb individual diving, as well as excellent timing as competing duos perform the 10-meter plunge in unison.
“We did well throughout the competition,” Cooper said. “We had only one rushed dive and stayed in second place most of the time.”
From the time he was 9 years old, Cooper has trained several hours a day under the guidance of nationally-prominent coach John Wingfield.
His parents, Brad and Leslee, withdrew him from school for home-schooling so he could accommodate the demanding training and competitive schedule required of top-level divers.
He hasn’t looked back, competing at events ranging from the national championships (the first time at age 12), the world junior championships in Australia and next month the Pan American Games.
Cooper, who competed in Puerto Rico last year as a member of the national teamfor the first time, is looking forward to the high level of international competition at the event in Toronto.
“It’s a pretty big event, and I’m hoping the competition will be a lot of fun,” he said. “I’m hoping we can win or at least get a medal.”
Cooper will continue repeating the various dives he expects to perform at the meet — first individually, but at some point together with Hawkins.
Cooper continues to progress in his pursuit of the Olympic dream. One sign of his improvement is his ability to execute an extremely difficult dive, doing four-and-a-half somersaults from a tuck position.
“It’s a lot of flipping,” Cooper said.
Another sign of progress is the high school junior now has his driver’s license, easing the demands on his parents of driving to training downtown or on the northside of Indianapolis.
But the benefits of mobility are applied almost exclusively to training schedules by Cooper, another example of his devotion to achieving his dream of international diving success.
“Practice is pretty much all day, so when I’m done with that I’m just ready to rest and relax,” he said. “I’m not much of a person to go out to parties. I’d rather keep that kind of thing away and focus on my goals and dreams instead.”