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Milford’s Mason Dives Into States

Sports can often times be intertwined with fate. Such was the case for Milford High School junior Mike Mason, who was having a little fun while using the diving board in gym class and just happened to catch the right set of eyes.
"I've had a trampoline since I was little, so I've always been used to doing flips and tricks," he said. "I was just fooling around on the diving board in gym and [Milford High swimming and diving coach] Dave Chaplin happened to see me and suggested I try diving with the team."
So Mason dove in, literally. He started competing as a freshman and this season, in just his third year as a competitive diver, earned a spot in the division 2 state meet. At states, Mason made the first cut and finished 18th overall.
"His attitude was great," said Chaplin. "It was his first time at that level, with 1,500 people in the stands and all the different events going on, it can be like a three-ring circus. But he handled it in a mature fashion and it was a great chance for him to grow in his first time in that atmosphere."
"It was tough, definitely more nerve wracking than most of the meets," said Mason. "I had competed at sectionals in the past, so I kind of knew what to expect, but it was still challenging. I felt I could have done better, but I was stronger than I expected on some of my dives."
Mason has honed his skills at a program called Boston Area Diving and wants to work on becoming more consistent, honing his form, and expanding his repertoire of dives for next season. Adding to the challenge of getting better is the fact that the Hockomock League does not sponsor diving due to a lack of adequate facilities at many of the league pools. There are only seven divers in the league, so often times Mason would dive as an exhibition, rather than in a competitive format.
"This league does not put a premium on diving, and it was tough for Mike not to have the competition to push him all year long," said Chaplin. "There were only a couple of occasions where he had to dive under the pressure of trying to win. To do that and then compete in the league and state meets is like having a pitcher throw batting practice all season and then pitch in a championship game."
Mason was successful in the limited competition he saw this year, taking home the league title and winning a crucial first place finish against Oliver Ames that provided Milford's margin of victory in that meet. "It was tough mentally when most times you feel like there is no pressure and then, suddenly, there is a chance I could lose," he said.
What started out on a trampoline and in gym class has turned into a successful high school athletic endeavor for Mason, and getting to dive in any format is a reward in itself.
"I really like diving because it's such a different skill set," he said. "It's about total body control and knowing where you are. A lot of nerve goes into it to, you're basically throwing your body into the air and there's always a chance you could hit the water hard in a weird way. I like the thrill of it, it's a lot of fun."




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