As divers go, Scarsdale senior Eddie Eforo would be considered recreational, in that he dives in the summer for the town team and in the winter for the high school team. He’s got football and other activities, plus swimming, to occupy the rest of his time.
Still, nothing made him happier, especially after summer diving was canceled, to have one chance to compete for the high school team Monday, Feb. 8, with teammates Haochen Liu, a sophomore, and Harley Koch, a freshman.
Scarsdale normally has a board for practices and competitions at Westchester Community College, but the pool hasn’t been open due to COVID-19 and the pool the school was able to secure at the YWCA in White Plains doesn’t have a board. Coach Inga DeNunzio was able to secure a quick slot for her three divers to compete at White Plains High School.
“I never thought I’d be so happy to see a diving meet and it was amazing just to get to see Eddie dive his last meet,” DeNunzio said. “The fun part about that is the official, who happened to be Paul McClintock, remembered him from Scarsdale pool. He said, ‘Have I been watching him since he was 8?’ That was nice and it was a good acknowledgement of him. He’s a diver, not a swimmer.”
Eforo, whom DeNunzio called “an amazing captain,” found the lone meet bittersweet, but he knows other athletes didn’t have a chance to swim in five meets and dive in one, so he was satisfied. “The fact that I got a chance to dive and have closure with the sport I’ve been in for as long as I can remember is great,” he said. “It’s been a year since I’ve had any diving practice and I came in and got to dive with my teammates. Usually I don’t have teammates, but both the underclassmen are really talented divers.”
DeNunzio and Eforo were trying to remember all the great diving coaches he had had on the town summer swim team, of which DeNunzio is the head coach. They reminisced about Todd and Nick Leone, Donnie Callara, Evan Moretti and Scott Clark, who sadly died after coaching the team for three years.
“He was a huge influence,” Eforo said of Clark. “Such a good coach. Unfortunately he died of cancer and I think about him a lot and that keeps me going.”
Koch, who also swims, started diving three years ago for the summer team and for the last year he has been a club diver.
“It’s interesting because most of the people are generally better than me, but I just do it for fun,” Koch said. “It’s mostly just doing it over and over again until I feel comfortable doing it until I can get it very consistent. Learning new stuff, the coaches help me through the process.”
Having an abnormal season for his freshman year wasn’t the worst thing for Koch. It took the pressure off, allowed him to get acclimated to the high school team and pumped him up for the future as he still is getting more consistent and learning new dives.
“He was just happy to dive,” DeNunzio said. “He’s not a seasoned competitive diver yet, so the more meets he has, the more time he has on the board, the more comfortable he’ll get. I think this was the perfect year for him to jump into things. Next year he’ll just be better for it.”
Being in the top 24 in the section, both Koch and Eforo qualified for sectionals, while will be held as a live meet at Purchase on Wednesday, Feb. 24, but they don’t have the full repertoire of five categories to compete.
“To have them both technically qualify for sectionals is amazing,” DeNunzio said. “They still can say they made it to sectionals.”
Liu placed fifth in Section 1 last winter, following in family-friend Morretti’s footsteps diving club for Fordham.
“Huge improvement,” DeNunzio said. “I haven’t seen him dive in a year since sectionals and then Monday. He is just going to be a better diver every year and that is going to be fun to watch. I can see most of these kids throughout the year swim with clubs and summer, but I don’t get to with diving. He will be a fresh look every year.”
At the team’s lone meet he won with a six-dive score of 250.05 and will look to get into the top two at sectionals when it’s 11 dives.
DeNunzio was impressed with Liu’s lone chance to qualify.
“He got a 9.0 from a really tough judge,” DeNunzio said. “It was a lower degree of difficulty dive, but it was a great dive and looked beautiful. It was great to watch him dive and get a mark like that.”
Liu was excited to swim and dive and be with his teammates and coaches.
“High school diving is an amazing experience,” Liu said. “Although diving isn’t a team sport, more individual, being part of a high school team is much better. I’ve really learned to appreciate having teammates like Eddie and Harley being there to cheer me on and I’m there to cheer them on as well.”
Liu knew many of his club diving friends had multiple chances to compete, but he didn’t let that get him down. “It was great because I know Inga has worked so hard to get us a board,” he said. “I think it was a great opportunity that we got to do it. And they have an amazing facility over there in White Plains. It was good to finally be able to get on the board for high school.”
The swimmers have preliminaries in the virtual swimming championships on Feb. 23, finals Feb. 25. They will compete at this year’s home pool in White Plains.
“It’s like everything else — we’re finding out on the fly and adapting,’ DeNunzio said. “I think most of us can show we can do it and it’s pretty neat to see so much unknown, but so much happening for people to make it normal. It’s hard, but we’re doing it.”
In the end the season was a celebration of the team’s enjoyment of being together and swimming and diving.
“I’m really proud of the way they handled themselves throughout this whole thing,” she said of her team. “We didn’t know day to day what was going to happen. Getting where we swam five meets and we have all these kids going to sectionals, they’re excited.”
DeNunzio was saddened by not being able to have a proper senior night to honor Eforo, Benjamin Armas, Justin DiSanto, Jackson Landless, Jonah Miller and Brendan Zullo.
“Senior year is this big hyped up thing, but for this year everyone I have talked to has been completely down about how COVID has really derailed everything,” Eforo said. “The fact that we were able to have a season and I was able to get exercise and see my teammates from last year and meet all the new freshmen, that was great. Just to have anything made me happy. It was just incredible.”