When I was six years old, I started doing gymnastics but I didn’t like my coaches. After seeing the Olympics on TV and watching diving for the first time, I knew diving is something I had to try. So I quit gymnastics.
Since my dad was a teacher, he had the summers off and he would take me to the pools where I spent the whole day on the board. By the time I was eight, my dad signed me up for a class where the coach was a diver for Arizona State and he recommended I join the club team at ASU. So from about eight until 18, I dove at ASU with head coach Mark Bradshaw, a former two-time Olympian in the 80s. I loved everything about it; it’s an individual sport so I didn’t have to rely on anyone else and it’s a game of “how can I improve every single day?”
You’re never guaranteed a spot at the Olympics - you have to earn your country spot at the international competition and then compete to make Team USA. For us - me and my synchronized partner, Kristian Ipsen - we earned our country spot last winter. Several months later at camp, the director approached me and said, “Sam, we want to make sure we pair you up with the best possible partner,” and in the last minute, right before the Olympics trials, they paired me up with Michael Hixon. So with three months before Rio, we had to claim our spot on the team by competing against former bronze medalists from 2012. We ended up working together really well - we dove out of our minds and that’s where we punched our tickets to Rio. That was one of the greatest moments of my life, looking at my parents in the stands and knowing 17 years of work finally paid off. Not to mention the look on my coach’s face…it doesn’t get any better than that.
Usually I wake up at 6:30 am and I study for about two hours before heading off to practice around 10 am. Sometimes I’ll hit the training room to get worked on by trainers and loosened up. At the pool, the first hour in the morning is what we call dryland routine, essentially diving-related exercises on the mats. The next hour we do basic drills and routines, and in the afternoon we get into the competitive dives. Depending on the day, in the afternoon I’ll also go lift, do pilates, or get a massage to keep my body healthy and prevent any back injuries. I really have to stay on top of all that.
My recovery is a lot of stretching. Since my diving routine is so repetitive and since I do the same thing so many times, I have to counterbalance with stretching. Even a lot of the workouts I do are to balance out my body - since my routine is quad-dominant, I balance it out by working out my hamstrings and glutes. The other three things I focus on the most are maximizing my sleep, food consumption and hydration.
And now you have your skincare routine, so that’s four things!
Exactly! Actually, the eye and face cream has been coming in clutch lately. We’ve been using the hot tub a lot and the chlorine annihilates my skin - it really dries it out. Usually lotion burns the hell out of my face after the tub, but I don’t have that issue with Oars + Alps’ Face Moisturizer + Eye Cream.
I get back from practice around 5 pm and any free time is usually spent with my dog, Hank. He’s an energetic one, so I take him to a giant dog park nearby that stretches for acres, where he can sprint as much as he wants. That’s where I get to put my phone away and CHILL. I just catch up with the other dog owners and unwind.