Jamie Miller is getting used to working alone.
As the lone diver on the Bay City John Glenn swimming & diving team, he spends his practice time by himself, working on the dives he hopes can get him a few steps higher on this year’s Finals podium.
“I’ve worked with plenty of really great coaches, and I’ve been to so many good camps,” Miller said. “I know a lot, and I actually know how to coach. I have a little TV, a little TiVo that records my dives, so 20 seconds later, I can walk up and watch it and see how to fix it. I’m a huge introvert, so I don’t have to talk to anyone and don’t have to worry about anyone.”
So far, so good for the senior, who is off to a strong start after finishing sixth at the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals a year ago.
He recently won the Tri-Cities championship at Saginaw Valley State, finishing with a two-day, 11-dive total of 454.5, which would have placed third at this past year’s Finals. He’s also broken the Oscoda pool record, scoring 273.55 for six dives to break the previous mark set in 1989.
“I think it’s going pretty well,” Miller said. “I had had a lot of time off because of COVID, but because of how hard I worked in middle school and my early years of high school, I just jumped right back in where I left off.”
Miller has been diving since seventh grade, although he discovered his skill and love for the sport almost by accident.
“I joined the swim team because it was the only sport I could pick that wasn’t a scary contact sport,” he said. “I started swimming and I got a really bad cramp and was like, ‘This kind of sucks. I’m going to try this other thing.’ Then I actually started to like it.”
He began working with Bay Aquatics Diving and coach Janet Beattie, which he said helped him to grow a lot as a diver. While the pandemic forced him away from the club, the lessons learned have helped him continue to improve.
He was also fortunate to have a strong teammate in Trevor Post, who placed fourth as a senior at the 2021 Finals.
“Trevor’s the kind of guy – you know the saying, ‘Work hard, because someone out there is working harder than you?’ Trevor was that guy, and I got to dive with him every day,” Miller said. “We got so competitive, and if we weren’t on the same team, we would not have been as successful as we were.”
Without Post pushing him daily at practice, Miller said it can sometimes be tough to be self-motivated. But anytime he needs a push, he looks up at the record board in front of him.
“The record I’m trying to beat this year at the schools, it’s been there since 2004, it’s 300 points,” he said. “My highest score is 275, so it’s a reach. We’ve only had two dual meets, and I’ve only got to dive at one of them. We have eight more, so that’s what I’m really going for. It’s going to be close.”
Miller is not only looking to motivate himself every day, he’s also constantly having to get over the fear that creeps in when he’s on the board and prepares to dive. While he considers the sport to be very fun, he’s not afraid to admit it is also “horrifying.”
“I have to get over it every single time I get in the water,” Miller said. “It’s kind of like diving is like a constant mental battle. It’s not a physical sport, it’s all mental. You have to convince yourself of things. You can really learn a lot about your mind with diving.”
As he learns about himself and how to stay motivated, Miller does have a greater goal ahead of him. Only three of the top eight divers from last year’s Division 3 Finals graduated, including two of the top five. Miller has crunched the numbers, and as he sees it, if all remains the same, he will move into the top three this year.
He’s not satisfied with that, though.
“I think the least I can shoot for is top three,” he said. “I should be shooting for first. I should just continue forward, shooting for first for the rest of the season. I know a couple kids who are really good. If nobody (else) just completely shines in their first year and beats me, then I should take third if everything stays the same. But I’m going to shoot for first.”
Paul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Bay City John Glenn’s Jamie Miller dives during a meet this winter. (Middle) Miller, leading a line of divers on the pool deck, recently won the Tri-Cities diving competition. (Photos by Kent Miller.)
MARQUETTE – Marquette has won so many Upper Peninsula Boys Swimming & Diving Finals team championships, it’s running out of wall space to celebrate them as the boys list already runs from the high ceiling to just about pool level.
They added one more Saturday, their fifth straight title and 31st in school history, and did so in dominating fashion finishing ahead of runner-up Houghton 319-214. The day saw a Marquette sweep as the girls team also breezed to a U.P. championship with its list of championships running just about as far down the same wall.
“Last year, we graduated some real studs,” Marquette coach Nathan McFarren said. “If you would have told me that both teams would be here winning it today last year at this time, I would have said you’re crazy. But our boys that were B and C swimmers were ready to shine. They wanted their moment, and they got it today.”
Marquette junior Trevor Crandell won the 50-yard freestyle, finished runner-up in the 100 butterfly and helped Marquette to wins in the 200 medley relay and 400 free relay.
“It’s so rewarding,” Crandell said. “When you’re first starting the year, it’s so demotivating, you’re not swimming any meets, you’re not doing any good times. But when you get to the U.P. Finals, you’re on that taper, you’re on that block, you’re just ready to go, it’s something special.”
“Super-quiet kid, but this year found the eye of the tiger and really went after it,” McFarren said of Crandell. “So exciting to watch. He wanted it so bad this year, proud of him.”
Junior Isaiah Youngren picked up Marquette’s other individual race win, in the 100 breaststroke. Junior Chase Thomsen was the top diver with a score of 198.15.
Manistique’s Nathan Schoenow won the 100 and 200 freestyle races.
The senior had been sick in his other U.P. Finals appearances.
“It feels good; a lot of hard work in the pool and out of the pool came into this,” he said.
He looked to sprint through both races, including the 200.
“Earlier this season, I didn’t have a whole lot of endurance,” Schoenow said. “I tried to pace myself, maybe hold back a little. But for this meet, since it’s my last time ever doing the 200, I just decided to sprint the whole thing and see how that would work. It hurt a lot, I was really tired after, but it worked – I got my best time by 3.5 seconds.
“The other one (100), same thing, I tried to sprint as hard as I could and the second I felt tired, I would just try to will myself to go faster.”
Other individual winners included Kingsford’s Joey Lundholm in the 200 individual medley and 100 fly, Rudyard’s Keith McDowell in the 500 free and Houghton’s Beau Haataja in the 100 backstroke.
Gladstone was third in the team standings with Kingsford fourth, Ishpeming/Negaunee fifth, Sault Ste. Marie sixth, Rudyard seventh, Manistique eighth and Ishpeming Westwood ninth.
McFarren made it a combined 17 Finals championships as coach for boys and girls for Marquette, tying Marquette’s Matt Williams for the meet record.
PHOTOS (Top) Marquette’s Trevor Crandell celebrates his victory in the 50-yard freestyle Saturday. (Middle) Swimmers launch at the start of the 50 championship race. (Below) Kingsford’s Joey Lundholm swims to a win in the 200 individual medley. (Click for more from Jarvinen Photos.)