ANN ARBOR — Sometimes swimmers and divers can feel like they are on different teams. They compete in different parts of the pool and are focused on what they can do for the team.
But they can flourish as teammates.
Michigan’s Collin DeShaw has been one of those teammates to bring both diving and swimming closer together. The redshirt junior diver from West Ottawa was named one of Michigan’s captains, something extremely rare for a diver.
“It is probably the greatest honor I have ever had, being able to lead 38 of my closest friends. It is such an honor to be voted by your teammates to be the person guiding the team. It has been challenging but very rewarding,” DeShaw said. “Coach (Mike) Bottom said I am the first men’s diver he has ever had as a captain, so that is a huge honor to be bridging the gap between swimming and diving.”
While it is rare for a diver to be a captain, it doesn’t seem to be rare that a Holland-area athlete is a captain for the Wolverines.
Chris DeJong, Grant Burtch and David Moore — all Holland graduates — have been captains in the past 13 years (not to mention gymnast Nicole Artz and football player Desmond Morgan, who were also captains during that span).
“A lot of it comes from the coaches that we have on the West side of the state,” DeShaw said. “But a lot of our teachers are fantastic leaders and role models for us. I think that comes from teachers and coaches. I am incredibly lucky to come from our area.”
Even more impressive than becoming a captain is the way it happened. DeShaw had to sit out the entire last season with a torn left labrum. Despite not being able to compete, he showed his support for his team on a daily basis and became an even more valuable asset for the Wolverines.
“Last year was tough not being able to score points for the team, but there is a lot to learn when you are watching the guys compete. There was a lot of learning going on,” he said. “Being able to score points is more than just getting up there, it is pushing your teammates. So far, I think I am doing really well. It was a long process rehabbing from the injury. I competed in Texas at nationals in the summer, and that went really well.”
And, of course, after finally being at full strength, he tore his right labrum.
“I just found out I tore my left labrum. I am still diving through that injury and we will have to get it fixed after NCAAs,” he said. “It was hard. But I have done it before. I dove the rest of the season two years ago when I found out about my right shoulder. It is tough, but it will be OK. I have a great support system here. It is another barrier to get over. We have really been working on fundamental technique after the injury. That foundation has helped me. I was at practice every day analyzing my teammates, figuring out what makes divers different and working on the little things that will overall make me a better diver.”
That won’t stop him from setting his goals high.
“So far, the season is going really well. We have a good group of guys, and the team is really dynamic. We have some work to do, but I think we will get there for Big Tens,” he said. “My goal is to score in every event at Big Tens. I also want to qualify for the NCAA meet. That would be incredible.”