Darien's State Open diving champion Bowtell captures both boards for New Canaan Whirlwind
With countless accolades to Jake Bowtell's credit, few would argue that he's one of the best divers Connecticut has.
But after winning the State Open on March 14 at Middletown High School, the Darien resident and Fairfield Prep student can legitimately be considered the best diver in the state.
According to Bowtell, who scored 491.10 points and won the 11-dive competition by 41.15 points over second place Lee Christensen of Darien, that particular accomplishment is especially gratifying.
"Winning out of all the top divers in the state -- it's just a wonderful thing to know you've been able to accomplish that," said Bowtell, who earned a 10 from one of the judges on his third dive, an inward dive from the pike position. "Going to all the practices and having some meets not going your way here and there makes it all worth it."
Although winning the Open was a thrilling moment, Bowtell was quick to give credit to his diving teammates, Tanner Blank and Robert McCrory, who also qualified for the Open and finished 14th and 16th, respectively.
It was the first time in Fairfield Prep's history that it sent three divers to the Open, and the trio helped the swimming/diving team finish in second place behind Greenwich.
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"That was big because even though we didn't win, those points were huge, and also it just showed how good my high school coach Jeanine Oburchay is and how she works with us as divers and how she was able to build the team," Bowtell said.
Bowtell still has senior year at Prep to look forward to. Although the fifth-year senior will be ineligible to compete in high school diving after spending two years at Darien and the last two years at Prep, the three-time All-American diver indicated that he fully intends to continue competing in club meets for Whirlwind Diving, a team based out of the New Canaan YMCA.
Most recently, Bowtell won both boards for coach Joe Somma's Whirlwind Diving squad during the regional championships, held at the New Canaan YMCA over the weekend.
"It's definitely a good feeling because all of these divers may be future Olympians or national championship divers," Bowtell said. "Being included in that bracket is humbling."
"He got first place at the regional championship on both boards," said Somma, who has been coaching Bowtell at the New Canaan YMCA since Bowtell was 10. "(Bowtell being a three-time All American) is pretty cool because he started diving at the YMCA. He didn't have a background in the sport, but it's fun to see him grow and develop into one of the best in his age group in the country."
But according to Oburchay, what sets Bowtell apart is passiont, pure strength and a high-comfort level on the board.
"He has an easy way about him. He's really comfortable on board. He's really strong compared to a lot of his competitors," Oburchay said. "Jake is really graceful, but he also brings strength and power to diving, which we don't see a lot of."
"I think his success has a lot to do with his work ethic," Somma said. "He works extremely hard at every practice. The more practice, the better you get."
Oburchay, Bowtell's diving coach for the last two years, was thrilled to see him win the State Open.
"I couldn't be prouder. He's a great kid, and we were fortunate to have him transfer to Prep because he's a huge part of our team," Oburchay said. "He's such a leader and other guys look up to him. He worked really hard and he deserved it."
Prior to the State Open, Bowtell also claimed second place in the Class LL meet. Although his 510 points weren't enough to capture the competition, they were enough to break his own school record of 493 points at the SCC championship. Prior to the SCC competition, the old school record had stood in place for 19 years -- longer than Bowtell has been alive.
As a sophomore in 2012, Bowtell was instrumental in helping the Jesuits wrestle the Class LL championship away from Greenwich. At that particular meet, Bowtell claimed third place with 409.4 points, as Fairfield Prep won the Class LL title with a score of 693.5 points to second place Greenwich's 629.5.
The victory snapped Greenwich's 19-year reign at the top of the class. Fairfield Prep had also finished in second place to Greenwich 18 times since 1980.
"For the team, it was huge. We wanted it for so long and coach Bruce Jaffe was retiring after being there for 46 years," Bowtell said. "That just gave us confidence for the Open meet, which we also won."
Bowtell is not 100 percent sure what college he'd like to attend; it's a fairly safe bet that diving will be in his future.
"I don't know what school specifically. I'm going to look around," Bowtell said. "I'm definitely going to do diving full swing. It's just about choosing where."
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