Diving into D-1

In the fall, Spencer Bystrom plans to attend George Washington University in Washington D.C.

From+left%3A+Grady+Bystrom%2C+Spencer+Bystrom%2C+Matthew+Keyerleber+and+Gabe+Colmenares.+The+relay+team+advanced+to+the+state+tournament+in+both+200+IM+and+200+freestyle.+Spencer+Bystrom+and+Colmenares+also+advanced+in+50+freestyle.+Photo+by+Missy+Bystrom.
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Diving into D-1

From left: Grady Bystrom, Spencer Bystrom, Matthew Keyerleber and Gabe Colmenares. The relay team advanced to the state tournament in both 200 IM and 200 freestyle. Spencer Bystrom and Colmenares also advanced in 50 freestyle. Photo by Missy Bystrom.

From left: Grady Bystrom, Spencer Bystrom, Matthew Keyerleber and Gabe Colmenares. The relay team advanced to the state tournament in both 200 IM and 200 freestyle. Spencer Bystrom and Colmenares also advanced in 50 freestyle. Photo by Missy Bystrom.

From left: Grady Bystrom, Spencer Bystrom, Matthew Keyerleber and Gabe Colmenares. The relay team advanced to the state tournament in both 200 IM and 200 freestyle. Spencer Bystrom and Colmenares also advanced in 50 freestyle. Photo by Missy Bystrom.

From left: Grady Bystrom, Spencer Bystrom, Matthew Keyerleber and Gabe Colmenares. The relay team advanced to the state tournament in both 200 IM and 200 freestyle. Spencer Bystrom and Colmenares also advanced in 50 freestyle. Photo by Missy Bystrom.

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Senior Spencer Bystrom is the most decorated athlete to come through the swimming and diving program at BHS.

What sets Bystom apart from his teammates is the fact that he is the only athlete who competes in both swimming and diving. And he competes at the highest level. Bystrom excels in both sports, and he has proven himself year after year at the state level.

Bystrom began with a main focus on swimming, but decided to give diving a shot when he lived in California. Though he really enjoyed it, he made the decision to concentrate completely on swimming.

“Moving to Ohio gave me the opportunity to begin diving again,” Bystrom said. “The American Flyers Dive club was very close to me.”

Although he has been diving for many years, Bystrom’s commitment to the sport continues to intensify.

“I stick with it because I feel that the mental training required for diving will benefit me as I continue through life. I like to tell myself that diving is my 100% mental sport, and swimming is my 100% physical sport,” Bystrom said. “Combining them will only make me better.”

According to Bystrom, balancing school and a social life on top of swimming and diving is relatively challenging.

“Once you’ve done it for long enough, it becomes an average day,” he said.

During the swim season, Bystrom woke up at 5:30 a.m. to get to school on time, where practice started promptly at 6 and lasted until 7:30. Right after practice, he had a full day of school followed by another practice from 4-6 p.m. Finally, he drove to Solon to dive from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

“By the time I [got] home, I [was] pretty beat up and ready to get to bed,” Bystrom said.

Bystrom usually tries to get his homework done during his free periods. If he fails to do so, he is upset with himself because he will have to do it all at night when he is drained from a long day of school and workouts.

During the swim season, Bystrom woke up at 5:30 a.m. to get to school on time, where practice started promptly at 6 and lasted until 7:30. Right after practice, he had a full day of school followed by another practice from 4-6 p.m. Finally, he drove to Solon to dive from 6:30-8:30 p.m.”

Before a big meet, a typical day of training is around 25-26 dives total. Bystrom competes an 11 dive list at championship meets, going through his list twice and repeating any if necessary.

During swimming practices, athletes also complete weight room training and dry land. However, dry land has not been a main focus this year.

“It’s more of a get up and go type of exercise. I just need my muscles ready to get on the board,” Bystrom said.

Because diving is such a mental sport, on the day of a big competition, Bystrom tries to take his mind off the competition.

“It sounds counterintuitive, but for me, meets need to be treated like a practice. If I try to force myself to dive better, I typically mess up more. So I’ll be out on the pool deck chatting with friends, blasting music, and enjoying myself,” Bystrom said.

When Bystrom was a freshman, he was the only diver on the swim team, and there was no diving  coach. As a result, he relied heavily on his club coach to guide him. With his success, he quickly put Beachwood on the map and since then two more divers have joined the program along with an incredible diving coach.

As a freshman diver, Bystrom placed second at the Chagrin Valley Conference meet and at the district meet. He advanced to the state competition and placed eleventh. During sophomore year, Bystrom again placed second at the CVC meet and at the district meet while placing fifth at the state meet. As a junior he won the CVC meet and at the district meet, placing 3rd at States. In Bystrom’s senior season, he held his title as CVC and district champ but feel short at the state meet, placing second.

He says that diving at the state level is a unique experience.

“You know that it’s a big meet, but sometimes it feels more like an intense practice,” he said. “Above all, it’s an experience that I’ve enjoyed for four years.”

Bystrom’s diving heroes and part of the driving force behind his success are his friends from American Flyers Diving.

“Without them, I would have quit a long time ago,” he said. “They always push me to be a better version of myself. When I’m trying a new dive and fail, they’ll comfort me. In a few months, we’ll be able to laugh at the fail together. It forms a bond that’s stronger than any other.”

In the fall, Bystrom plans to attend George Washington University in Washington D.C., where he will continue his academic and athletic career at the Division I level.

 

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