Daily Egyptian

Chipps represents Australia for Saluki diving

By Aaron Graff

Diving may not be the most well known sport, but freshman Aiden Chipps found out he could get an education halfway around the world from his home in Australia through the competition.

Chipps came to the university on a scholarship to compete in the sport he loves. Because scholarships in Australia exist for a select few sports, SIU was the most convenient way to him to dive while getting an education. Chipps stays in contact with a lot of people back home including his family, girlfriend and close friends, but said it is hard not seeing them every day.

“Home sickness hits you like a punch in the face,” Chipps said. “I’m on the other side of the world and I didn’t think I’d get homesick, but three weeks into it, it is heavy.”

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Chipps found early success in diving while living in Australia. In 2010 at Age Nationals, he won two gold medals and one silver medal, making him the male champion. Chipps said that was his top moment in Australia, but he takes American diving just as seriously because it is a key factor in his education.

“Now that I’m here and I’m getting my education paid for, I don’t want to waste the money,” Chipps said. “I’m going as hard as I can.”

Chipps said there are a few differences from diving in Australia — in Australia, there is a beep that indicates when divers begin; in America, the judges just say the diver’s name. His coaches at home had “pool booking” and had to reserve the pool for a period of time, a more laid back process compared to long practices that do not have a set finish time in America.

Diving Head Coach Joy Zhao said she is glad Chipps, an athlete who listens to everything she says, is on the team. She simply expects freshmen to begin adapting to college diving, she said.

“For the freshman year I do not expect very much,” Zhao said. “They transfer from different countries, they go from high school to college, which they are not used to.”

Chipps said his personal expectations are the same as Zhao’s — he just wants to figure out where he stands among the competition. He has looked up at junior teammate Kegan Skelton as someone who has found success at the college level.

Skelton said last year he was the only male diver on the team, so the addition of Chipps is a welcome one. Both push each other to get better as a team and compete well against other schools.

Skelton said Chipps is very dedicated and sees him going far in his tenure at SIU, but he also notices the weakest parts of Chipps’ game and does his best to help him out.

“His form is very guy-like,” Skelton said. “His knees are a little cramped and his toes aren’t always pointed. He doesn’t keep them together and locked on the entries. That’s his weakness now, and if he can fix that he can be really good.”

Chipps said his favorite thing about diving is the thrill of it.

“The fact that you can jump off a springboard and do a bunch of flips and twists, it just gets the blood flowing and gives an adrenaline rush,” Chipps said. “That feeling to me is the best thing.”

Chipps said he is not sure if he wants to live in America or go back home to Australia after graduation; his number one goal is to get his degree and figure it out from there.

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