It’s a good thing Austin Nemire got over his fear of wearing a speedo.
If not, the Lakeview high school senior would likely be at home this Friday and Saturday instead of competing for a diving state championship at Saginaw Valley State University. And he might even have a different best friend.
Nemire and sophomore diver Levi Youmans are among 10 Spartans to advance to the MHSAA Division 2 State Finals. Nemire is seeded sixth in diving, while Youmans is the second seed.
Both Spartans want to end the season standing on the podium for All-State honors – ideally in a 1-2 finish.
“I want it so bad,” Nemire said. “I’ve had on the background of my home screen on my phone, ‘2016 State Champ’ – since before the season started. That’s all I’ve wanted.”
Youmans, who finished sixth at the state meet as a freshman to earn All-State status, was diplomatic in regards to who he’d like to see win a state championship.
“He wants it,” he said of Nemire. “It’s his senior year.”
No matter how they finish, there is little doubt that Lakeview High School would have two of the top divers in the state if not for a friendship that developed three years ago.
Nemire did gymnastics for nine years before he literally outgrew the sport. As a freshman, he was approached by Lakeview diving coach Willie English about joining the swim team.
“College gymnast and Olympic gymnast are about 5-foot-2. And I just kept growing and my limbs are too long,” Nemire said. “Willie my freshman year tried to get me to dive, and I was like, ‘Do I have to wear a speedo?’ He said yeah. And I’m like, “No, I don’t want to then.’ Then gymnastics wasn’t going anywhere for me so I called him up and he was excited.”
Youmans became a diver by goofing around on ‘a janky diving board’ in his family’s backyard pool. He quickly showed his natural talent by setting the Lakeview Middle School diving record as a seventh grader. Then in eighth grade, he began to work alongside Nemire with Lakeview diving coach Willie English.
“We kind of knew each other in middle school but we weren’t friends or anything,” Youmans said with a laugh. “We started diving together when I was in eighth grade, and then come the next year we were both on the high school team… We are both of a similar level, so we’ve both been pushing each other further and further.”
Both Nemire and Youmans dive throughout the year for their club team and each attended the prestigious Indiana Diving Academy/RipFest this past summer. When they are not on the board, they both like to play pickleball – a paddle sport similar to tennis.
“I’ve never had divers that have had this relationship as far as a friendship goes, but they are very competitive with each other,” English said. “That makes it a lot more fun for me coaching those guys… They push each other, but they are also very helpful with each other. They carry themselves like true teammates should.”
Nemire is set to dive in his last meet as he is attending a trade skill school next year. But he said he’s excited about the opportunity to work while going to school so he can travel to watch his friend Levi as he dives for his club team and Lakeview.
Youmans said he’s not looking forward to Nemire graduating.
“I’m not excited for next year,” he said. “Just because the past two years I’ve had my best friend and someone that is like at an equal skill level.
“To be honest, I’m actually not a huge fan of practice. if Willie says go five times through, if he’s not paying attention, I’ll definitely go four times through. But it’s fun to go to because I have someone there to talk to and it’s not just two hours of getting up and off the board. It gets tiring after a while. After an hour-and-half you are wore out and spent and need to take a break. It’s a lot better when someone else is there.”
Nemire and Youmans seem to bring out the best in each other, and never was that more evident than on ‘Senior Night’ on Feb. 11.
Before the meet against St. Joseph, the team posted Nemire’s score of 300 that he’d set earlier in the season on the school record board.
It wouldn’t stay long.
“It came down to the last dive,” English said. “From a coaching standpoint, this is uncharted territory for me but I have to coach them the same. I called Levi over and I said, “I need 45 points and he went up there and got 308.20. I jump out of my seat screaming, ‘Yeah!’ Then the emotion hits like, ‘Dang, Austin is a senior and his record just got broken.’
“I called (Nemire) over and said you need 50-some points on this dive for you to beat him. I need the best front one-and-half two twist you’ve ever done to this point. What does he do? He does the best front one-and-a-half two twist he’s ever done and goes 308.45.”
Nemire’s record will be in jeopardy for the next two years as long as Youmans takes the board for the Spartans. But the senior heads to the state meet with no regrets in what has been a memorable season.
“This year has been the most fun,” Nemire said. “Sophomore year was just catching on and just doing a lot of stuff to my feet and using my gymnastic ability because I’m used to landing on my feet. Then junior year, I had to start putting everything into my hands, that was just rough because I dive by feel and not by site – I’m working on that this year. So I would always just come out whenever it felt right and I would smack a lot. Last year I was ready for the season to be over with and did not want to go to practice ever. This year, if practice gets canceled I’m upset because I need to work for the state meet that I want to win so bad.”
Youmans aspires to dive in college for a Division 1 program. While he knows it will take a lot of work to accomplish that goal, he’s still having a blast thanks to having teammates like Nemire.
“The state meet means more to me than nationals does,” Youmans said. “Because at the state meet, you have all your high school buddies that you are going to school with. All the state team guys that you’ve been with all summer long. You go there and have a good time.”
Nick Buckley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 269-966-0652. Follow him on Twitter:@NickJBuckley
MHSAA BOYS SWIMMING & DIVING FINALS
DIVISION 1: at Holland Aquatics
DIVISION 2: at Saginaw Valley State University
DIViSION 3: at Eastern Michigan University
LOCAL STATE QUALIFIERS
Lakeview: Scott Carstens (200 medley relay, 50 freestyle, 200 freestyle relay, 100 backstroke, 400 freestyle relay); Braden Shanks (200 medley relay, 50 freestyle, 200 freestyle relay, 400 freestyle relay); Tabor Smyth (200 medley relay, 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle relay, 100 backstoke, 400 freestyle relay); Parker Sprau (200 medley relay, 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle relay, 400 freestyle relay); Matt Cole (200 medley relay, 200 IM, 200 freestyle relay, 100 backstoke, 400 freestyle relay); Will Kaspari (200 medley relay, 200 freestyle, 500 freestyle, 200 freestyle relay, 400 freestyle relay); Blake Little (200 medley relay, 200 freestyle, 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle relay, 400 freestyle relay); Sam Myers (200 freestyle, 200 freestyle relay, 400 freestyle relay); Levi Youmans (diving); Austin Nemire (diving)
Harper Creek: Maurer Jackson (200 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 400 freestyle relay); Ethan Wilson (200 freestyle, 500 freestyle, 400 freestyle relay); Alex Piper (500 freestyle, 400 freestyle relay); Adam Wilson (400 freestyle relay); Jeffery McDaniels (400 freestyle relay)
Marshall: Brian Huyge (200 medley relay, 400 freestyle relay); Landon Morgan (200 medley relay, 200 IM, 200 freestyle relay, 100 breaststoke); Michael Vezmar (200 medley relay, 200 freestyle relay, 400 freestyle relay); Cam Foster (200 medley relay, 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle relay, 400 freestyle relay); Chandler Cruz (200 medley relay, 200 freestyle relay, 400 freestyle relay); Alex Kraushaar (200 medley relay, 200 freestyle relay, 100 breaststroke, 400 freestyle relay); Juul Loonen (200 medley relay, 200 freestyle relay, 400 freestyle relay); Eron Hill (50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle relay, 400 freestyle relay); O’Shea Swinton (diving); Luke Stone (200 freestyle relay, 400 freestyle relay)
Complete results from the finals can be found at mhsaa.com