NEW CANAAN, Conn. – New Canaan High School’s Bobby Ross earned a share of the conference diving championship with Darien’s Lee Christensen after several years of summer club success.
Ross, a junior, and Christensen finished with a total of 425.4 points in the championship meet. They finished ahead of defending champion Sean Burston of Westhill. Ross was named The New Canaan Daily Voice Athlete of the Month for his accomplishment.
Most divers commit to the sport year-round, and Ross did so for a while early in his career. “I had no intentions of diving year round,’’ he said. “I did other things. I played soccer in middle school, played lacrosse in sixth and seventh grades.”
Each year, diving coach Joe Somma would see Ross during the summer and wanted him to work with his Whirlwind Diving team at the New Canaan YMCA. “He’d see me and say, 'Is this the year you’re coming back? Is it this year?' Finally, at the beginning of my sophomore year, I said yes.”
It wasn't that he didn't enjoy diving, Ross said. It was because he wanted to try other things. “Diving was the sport for me, but I didn’t know it yet,’’ he said. “I was pretty young. I wasn’t reflecting on anything. I just wanted to sort things through.”
When Ross made a full-time return to the sport, he improved quickly. “I had an unbelievable run,’’ he said. “I got to regionals, qualified for zones and junior nationals. I had no idea how I did that. I never thought I’d be close to competing at this level.”
Ross and Christensen took advantage of a late mistake by Burston to share the title. The Westhill diver led throughout the competition but failed on a late dive.
Suddenly, Ross and Christensen, who were switching between second and third most of the night, became the leaders. All three boys have been Whirlwind teammates and longtime friends and rivals.
“I felt badly for him,’’ Ross said of Burston. “When a diver messes up, they don’t want people huddling around them. I had to really focus on my last two dives. It felt good that I was able to help the team. I wanted to everything I could to get points for the team.”
Ross will head into state competition next. The State Open should be a battle, with Fairfield Prep’s Jake Bowtell, a Darien resident, also a potential winner.
“It’s good to have that competition locally,’’ Ross said. “It’s hard to tell where I’d if I hadn’t taken that break, but I don’t think about it. I just try to think about the level I’m at now.”