Despite an off night, Zachary Cooper was able to see the positives in his Olympic-sized opportunity.
The 18-year-old diver from Greenwood said competing in the U.S. Olympics Team Trials is going to help him a lot in the future.
“Seeing all them dive like that makes me want to work five times harder just to catch up to them,” Cooper said.
Cooper was fourth headed into Sunday night’s men’s 10-meter platform finals at the Indiana University Natatorium at IUPUI. Cooper’s scores fell off, and he ended up seventh out of 12 divers.
Winner David Boudia, the 2012 Olympic 10-meter platform gold medalist from Noblesville High School and Purdue, and runner-up Steele Johnson, a Carmel resident from Purdue, advance to the Rio Olympics.
“I feel like I could have done a lot better, but it just wasn’t my night I guess,” Cooper said. “I feel like I was a little nervous. But overall I was calm, and I just think I was just off a little.
“I really didn’t change anything in my routine. I just wasn’t all there (Sunday).”
Cooper’s first dive scored a 76.80, but that was by far his best score. His worst total was 40.80 for his fourth dive.
“Once the dive is done, I move on and focus in on the next one,” Cooper said. “I don’t get too excited or depressed about a dive. I just keep going.”
Cooper finished third with Max Showalter in Thursday’s synchronized men’s 10-meter platform finals.
Cooper, who is homeschooled, has one more year of high school to complete through Indiana Connections Academy.
Cooper said one thing he learned is he needs to relax and work on his entries.
“I need to focus on my dives a little more and make sure nothing distracts me whatsoever,” Cooper said. “I knew I was going to gain a lot of experience when I came here, but I was determined to see how far I could get.”
Cooper, who competes for RipFest Diving Club, is just starting to consider his future beyond high school.
“I don’t know what I want to do with my life or where I want to go,” Cooper said. “I’m going to plan all that out throughout the summer and figure out what I want to do at the end of the summer.”
One thing is certain: Cooper said he going to work hard over the next four years to prepare himself for another shot.
“I’ve got new dives to learn and a ton of entries and some springboard to get done,” Cooper said. “Just work as hard as I can to catch up to the big guys.”
Cooper definitely took notice how the top competitors are so calm and composed.
“They’re able to handle all the situations under pressure,” Cooper said. “They’re always on camera and always being followed around. They’re able to handle that very well and keep right on track with their diving.”