Posted: December 10, 2009
For two years, Erin Tormey was the lone female diver on the Lehigh swimming and diving team. Now, however, another female has joined the team and according to diving coach Seth Darley, a few more are coming next fall to round out the team.
Darley acknowledges that it was probably a little bit of a struggle for Tormey being the only girl.
“She actually sets the standard for the practices,” he said. “She doesn’t really say much during practices but just works really hard.”
Tormey seems to have taken it all in stride, however, and hasn’t struggled too much as the only girl.
“I was close with the guys on the team but it’s nice having another girl to work out with to kind of push you,” says the Lehigh senior. “This year there is a freshman girl (Melissa Suggs) and we help each other out a little bit. It’s nice having another girl but it wasn’t bad without other girls either.”
Did being the only girl affect Tormey’s performance? Definitely not. Last year, Tormey did well enough at the Patriot League Championships to qualify for the finals, where she placed eighth in the three-meter dive and seventh in the one-meter dive.
This year, Tormey has placed first in three separate meets, twice in the three-meter dive and once in the one-meter dive. Most recently, Tormey finished first in the three-meter dive against archrival Lafayette.
All of this success is particularly interesting given that Tormey was a walk-on her freshman year.
“I actually wasn’t recruited,” she said. “I contacted the diving coach before I came and she told me she didn’t know if I was able to dive here and then about a month before school started, the swimming coach contacted me and asked if I was still interested in diving.”
During Tormey’s freshman year, she was the only student, male or female, who ended up on the diving team.
During her sophomore season, the team was without a diving coach.
“That was probably the hardest year,” Tormey said. “Staying motivated and going to practice and actually doing stuff rather than just sitting around. I saw more improvement once I had a coach so it kind of hurt, I could have potentially gone farther maybe if that season was a little more beneficial.”
Not having a coach is part of the reason that the diving team has not grown significantly over the past few years.
“If there’s no coach, there’s no one to really stimulate the interest,” Darley said. “Who’s going to go to a college with no diving coach?”
For the past two years, the divers have been coached by Darley, who said Tormey’s improvement has been incredible.
“Last year she actually improved from the beginning of the year by 30 points and this year she’s 20 points ahead of where she was last year,” he said.
Being on the swimming and diving team has taught Tormey a lot about swimming, which is a sport that she was unfamiliar with before coming here, friendship and leadership.
Her favorite part of being a student-athlete at Lehigh is being on the team, where most of her closest friends are also swimmers and divers.
“It’s nice having a group of friends that are doing the same things you are all of the time,” she said. “Even if it’s waking up for 6 a.m. practices three times a week,” which is, understandably, Tormey’s least favorite part.
Darley said Tormey’s leadership is unparalleled.
“She’s the one I would go to if I need something done with the team or organizing something and making sure everyone’s doing what they should be doing,” said Darley, who is in his second year.
Tormey was named team captain her junior year and this year she is one of the team’s ‘leaders’, which is essentially a captainship. Head swimming and diving coach Rob Herb removed the title of captain last season and named leaders instead.
Besides diving, Tormey is a civil engineering major and a member of both the Rossin Junior Fellows and civil engineering society at Lehigh. Tormey made the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll in both 2008 and 2009. Additionally, Tormey did a co-op at Crayola during one semester, which she said was very difficult to balance with diving.
Like all student-athletes at Lehigh, time management is the key to success, especially considering the three day a week morning practices, daily evening practices and Saturday meets that the team competes in.
In the future, Tormey hopes to either go to graduate school or work as a consultant at an engineering firm.
Does she hope to continue diving?
“Probably not,” Tormey said. “It’s kind of a hard sport to continue with. You can’t really find diving boards anywhere to just hop on.”
Tormey and the Mountain Hawks are in the middle of the winter training season. Lehigh will return to action on Saturday, January 9 when the Mountain Hawks host Marist at Jacobs Pool with action beginning at 1 p.m.
Story written by Rachel Sachs ‘10