HARVARD — The Brown Family of Still River Road had great fun watching Team USA compete in the Summer Olympic Games in London. That’s because two of the Brown children are already competing in national diving championships. Meanwhile, two more children may also take up the sport.
Dewey and Katie Brown have six children — 16-year-old Sarah, 14-year-old Thos, 13-year-old Trevor (“Trippy”), 11-year-old Emily, 7-year-old Tate and 5-year-old Ivy.
Sarah competes on The Bromfield School swim team and trains at Swim Fit in Boxboro. But her passion is painting. Her vividly-colored landscapes hang on the first floor of the Brown home.
Likewise 14-year-old Thos is not a swimmer, preferring to run for the Bromfield team. Thos is also an artist who enjoys drawing.
But Trippy and Emily have taken readily to the sport.
Dewey recalled watching the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and wondering “I wondered if Trippy would like to learn how to dive.’ He’d been swimming and is very athletic and agile.”
Even when diving into the ocean, Trippy “had a certain form. He was just really straight and had a perfect stream line,” said Dewey. “That’s what made me think that maybe he’d like diving.”
Dewey used to swim for Weston High School as a youth. Dewey took Trippy to Brandeis University for lessons. “The teacher would say ‘Have him stick with it’ because he seemed to be very good.”
Dewey began transporting Trippy for training with Joe Chirico who leads the Boston Area Diving club. Chirico coached at Northeastern University last year and returns to Wellesley College this year where he’d previously coached. Dewey said Chirico is held in high regard.
“He’s kind of a tough guy,” said Katie Brown of Chirico. “He’s pretty tight mouthed” when asked to analyze the potential in youth athletes, but with Trippy, “Joe called up and asked him to come back” after Trippy had taken a couple month hiatus from lessons.
“Joe asked him if he wanted to be on the team, and we went from there,” said Dewey Brown.
Trippy dives from both 1 meter (3.3 feet) and 3 meter (9.8 feet) heights. “He can do the 5 meter (16 feet) and 7 meter (25 feet) platform but doesn’t like it,” said Katie Brown. “He hates the heights.”
Trippy, walking through the kitchen, doesn’t take such talk sitting down, interjecting that he’s jumped off the 10 meter (33 feet) platform as well.
“His dives are getting more and more complicated and difficult as he goes along,” said Katie. “He does inward dives, reverse dives, front, back, reverse and inward 1 1/2s, 2 1/2s, and twists, for example.” Gymnastics helped early on for flexibility and agility.
The training has paid off. Trippy has qualified for national Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) diving competitions over the past four years after clearing regional meets.
The 2012 AAU Diving National Championship was held in Huntersville, N.C., from July 24-31. Competing against a dozen 13-year old boys, Trippy scored impressively.
Trippy placed first in the 3 meter diving competition, second in the 1 meter diving competition and third in the synchronized boys’ 1 meter springboard competition.
At last year’s 2011 AAU Nationals in California, Trippy placed second in the 1 meter dive and third on the 3 meter dive. In 2010, Trippy placed 11th in the 1 meter and sixth in the 3 meter diving competition in Florida. And in his first year on the national scene, Trippy placed 5th on the 1 meter dive and third in the 3 meter dive at the 2009 AAU Nationals at Indiana University.
“He’s always been up there,” said Katie Brown.
A five-member judging panel grades each diver. The top and bottom scores given are thrown out. The dives are scored on the “DD” — degree of difficulty.
What does the future hold for Trippy in terms of competitive diving? “I don’t know,” said Dewey. “It’s hard to say,” said Katie. “Of course, it depends on him.”
Dewey said Trippy and Emily have trained in Coral Springs, Fla. “There’s a whole different attitude about swimming down there … It’s a totally different culture. It’s kind of like hockey up here.”
Trippy dives two to three times a week, while others may dive daily or even twice a day. “It makes you wonder about his potential,” said Dewey.
Trippy dives for The Bromfield School varsity team. “He was the youngest at states by far,” said Dewey.
Trippy placed eighth among 30 divers in the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) 1 meter diving competition. Compared to the upper classmen, Trippy was the only middle school competitor. “It was cool to watch,” said Dewey.
Trippy strolls by the kitchen as his parents talk, wiggling a loose baby tooth. Katie said it’s too early to tell how far Trippy will take his driving.
“He likes other things like baseball,” said Katie. “And we have other kids.”
But it’s not just Trippy who’s become enthralled with driving. His sister Emily has now twice competed at the national level.
This summer, Emily placed 11th in the 1 meter and ninth place in the 3 meter diving finals among 11 year old girls. In 2010, Emily placed 10th in the 3 meter dive.
Unbeknownst to the family at the time, Emily competed this summer with strep throat. “She came home with a 103 degree fever, so I think she did very well for being sick,” said Katie. “She has a great attitude about it and works hard.”
And that’s not all.
Two other Brown children — 7-year-old Tate and 5-year-old Ivy — could competitively dive in the future.
Coach Chirico “has his eye on Tate,” said Katie. But it will entirely “depend if he likes it.”
And while some toddlers were still learning to walk, Ivy “could swim when she was 11 months old,” said Katie with a laugh. “You could put her in the water and there was no fear. She’d just jump in a pool, come up and doggie paddle.” Though she’s young to do so, when accompanied by an adult, Ivy likes to swim to “second raft”, anchored some 50 yards off shore at Bare Hill Pond “but they don’t want her doing it,” noted Katie.
“We’ve said it all along, ‘If you want to quit, quit,” said Katie. Sometimes Trippy and Emily complain about practices, but at the same time the two have formed friendships with others on the Boston Area Diving team. “They really just enjoy being together,” said Dewey.
Trippy enjoyed watching the televised Summer Olympics games with his family. “I’ve met a few of them,” noted Trippy. “It’s really cool to watch.”
When you see an elite diver “it’s so advanced- they can slow the dive,” said Dewey. “They’re so smooth and slow- you can see everything and can see every aspect to it,” said Dewey, who marveled at the divers’ in-air precision and smooth entry, or “rip”.
“They go in just clean,” said Dewey. “You can usually hear that clap and you know it’s a good dive because you know they’re just going in straight.”
“Most of the time I’m just awestruck,” said Trippy. “It’s just “oh my God.”
Emily’s interests in the Olympic games were split “50/50.”At first Emily said here favorite part of the summer games was “the diving” but then added “… well … the swimming also because of how fast they’re going.” Next year, Emily will swim and dive for Bromfield.
“Her swimming is taking off so we’ll see how she feels about doing both,” said Katie. “If it’s not something she feels passionate about, then no. But it would be great for Bromfield if she did.”
Emily has also been bitten by the acting bug, having showcased her singing and dancing talents as the lovable red-haired Annie in last year’s production of the musical “Annie Jr.” at Hildreth Elementary School.
With four of the six Brown children in the pool, it seems diving is “in the Brown blood,” said Katie.