The lack of a local club wasn’t about to prevent Emily Schmidt from becoming one of the top young divers in the country.
The 11-year-old native of Red Deer got into diving when she was seven and is already a two-time Canadian champion and a member of the Canadian national junior team, which will compete in the Pan Am junior championships this week in Calgary.
Schmidt didn’t start her athletic career with the idea of competing in diving but rather as a member of the Red Deer Exelta Gymnastics Club.
“It was OK, but I just told my mom I wanted to try a different sport,” explained Schmidt.
“I had a friend of mine come out from B.C. and she was in diving and told my mom that I should try it as well.”
It went from there, although Red Deer didn’t have club.
She joined the Rocky Mountain Club in Calgary, then switched to the Dive Calgary, which she will represent until she moves to Victoria following then Pan Am competition.
“There’s a coach there (in Victoria) I’m interested in training with and I also want to work a bit more on the tower,” said Schmidt, who is the No. 1 ranked 11-and-under female diver in Canada on the one and three-metre boards.
She won both competitions at the Speedo Junior National championships in Victoria in July, while placing fifth on the 10-metre tower. Last year she won the one-metre and was fifth on the three-metre board.
Schmidt enjoys the challenge diving provides.
“It’s different and hard, but a lot of fun,” she said. “I was also a bit scary at first, but definitely a challenge.”
Schmidt was a natural in the sport, and didn’t mind the travel, although she said it would have been better if there was a club in Red Deer.
“But I enjoyed the Calgary clubs and I’ve learned a lot,” she said.
Moving to Victoria will be a another step forward for Schmidt, who is entering Grade 6, but it does mean moving away from home with her mother.
“I’ll miss (Red Deer) a bit, but I’ll come back as my dad is still here,” she said.
Schmidt believes the move will lead to her ultimate goal of making the 2016 Olympic Games.
“I’ll be 18 by then and should be where I need to be,” she said.
l The Pan Am championships are at the Talisman Centre in Calgary . . . Schmidt competes in the three-metre final at 11:15 a.m. Thursday and the one-metre competition at 10 a.m. Saturday.