As one of the most noteworthy back flippers on campus since his freshman year, Connor Cavanagh ’20, was able to show off his gymnastics skills in a different light.
On Saturday, December 7, 2019, the Swimming and Diving team had a meet against the Northfield Mount Hermon School team. Among the various accomplishments at the meet, Connor Cavanagh made a splash when he beat the boy’s diving record.
This was his first diving meet, and Connor’s record-setting dive garnered a whopping 253.88 points.
Although this was an outstanding achievement, this wasn’t the first time Connor has had the stands going wild. He is most known for his gymnastics talents, and his skills have been on display since he stepped onto the Williston campus.
Connor first debuted his skills during his freshman orientation at Bonnie Brae, the old campgrounds in Pittsfield, Mass., where Williston used to host orientation. Since then, he has shown off his skills at various events, such as the Dodgeball Tournament his freshman year, where he did a backflip over a flying ball headed straight for him.
His gymnastics journey began at the age of two in Mommy and Me classes. Connor explained that he began taking up gymnastics after that due to his mother believing that it was “good for strength and development as a kid.” He currently practices at Tim Daggett Gold Medal Gymnastics in Agawam, Mass.
Connor has participated in many competitions since taking his gymnastics to the next level. He has participated in the Army West Point Open, Junior Olympic Nationals (four times: Reno, Oklahoma City, Long Beach, and Kissimmee), and the Winter Cup in Las Vegas. These are high ranking and prestigious competitions, and Connor has proudly taken the spotlight in some at just 17 years old.
Thus far he is the “17-year-old Vault National Champion, 7th All Around for the 17-year-olds in the country, qualified and competed for the Junior Olympic regional team, and placed third as a region at nationals,” he explained.
“Vault is currently my best event since I placed first at nationals on it,” he said, “but rings are my favorite if I can keep my shoulders healthy.”
Connor’s gymnastics journey is about to take another major leap, this time at West Point: The United States Military Academy, where he’ll attend college in the fall. This achievement, he said, can be credited to his lengthy hours of training, Monday through Friday for three and a half hours a day, and Saturday for four hours.
He gave a lengthy run down of what those practices contain, and said what he does on the mat and bars and rings actually helped him a lot transitioning into diving.
“One of the hardest parts about diving is the air sense, which is knowing where your body is in the air,” he explained. “And this is something that is pushed heavily in gymnastics.”
Although this helped him, he learned patience through the slowness of the springboard. It is different than the ground he’s used to in gymnastics; the floor and vault springboard are more reactive.
“However, with practice I was able to finally figure out how to get the right spring off of a diving board,” Connor said.
His initial experience was faulty, he said, due to these differences, as well as to his getting a feel and being cautious, but by the end of that practice he was “chucking double flips with full twists.”
“Usually at gymnastics we can only do flips like that on a trampoline which we normally only get to do for a couple minutes before practice,” he explained. “But at diving we got to do that for the whole practice, so I was like a kid in a candy store.”
This article originally ran in The Willistonian.