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Pine-Richland diver Giordano enjoys rapid rise

| Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013, 9:30 p.m.
Christopher Horner
Pine-Richland's Dominic Giordano dives during a meet Wednesday at Butler. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Christopher Horner
Pine-Richland's Dominic Giordano dives during a meet at Butler Area High School on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review

Initially, Dominic Giordano had to be convinced he was a diver. He had to be urged to train in the sport seriously. He needed to truly believe it was a worthwhile pursuit.

All it took was one summer for his God-given ability to shine through. Less than three years later, he's evolved into one of the top divers in the state.

Giordano, a senior at Pine-Richland, will look to defend his WPIAL Class AAA diving championship Feb. 23 at North Allegheny.

A Florida State recruit, he also is striving to win a PIAA gold medal after two prior top-eight finishes.

Not bad for a kid who needed to be talked into the sport.

“Dom was swimming and was more of a swimmer than a diver,” Pine-Richland diving coach Maria Misenhelter recalled. “And at the end of his freshman year, I convinced him he needed to go and train year-round down at Pitt.

“Dom didn't want to go. He said, ‘I'm a swimmer, not a diver.' I said, ‘Dom, trust me, you're a diver.' ”

Giordano placed among the top seven in the WPIAL during each of his first three years of high school. He advanced to the finals of the Junior National Diving Championships in August, and he's earned that Division I scholarship.

“He's come a long way in a very short amount of time,” Pitt Aquatic Club program director Doe Krug said.

Giordano moved with his family from northern California about a year and a half before he was to enter high school. He had dabbled in diving but needed a little nudge to pursue it more seriously.

Once he arrived at Pitt Aquatic the summer after his freshman year, it took just three practices for Giordano's promise to stand out to the college coaches who eye diving talent for a living. Doe's husband, Julian, is Pitt's coach.

“He's really intense, so he calls me over as I'm working on something and sits me down,” Giordano said. “ ‘You have tons of potential, and we'd love to work with you — as long as you're willing and want to be here in the right mindset.' He wanted to make sure if I didn't want to be diving; they weren't going to push me. They wanted me to want it.

“And that made me realize, yes, I do want this. With Connor (Kuremsky) and J.B. (Kolod) and the other amazing divers who have come through that program, I wanted to be that good. I wanted summer nationals. I wanted to dive in college — and to get it, I was willing to work my butt off.”

Giordano still swims — he achieved WPIAL championships qualifying times in multiple events this season — but diving is his passion. He succeeded Kuremsky's WPIAL title reign — the former North Allegheny star won four in a row — by bettering the field by more than 100 points.

More striking, Giordano's score of 544.50 was better than the PIAA record, which has held for the past 24 years. Kuremsky holds the WPIAL record (607.30).

“He's a truly competitive person,” Misenhelter said. “It doesn't matter if it's swimming or diving, you can see it in his eye, he wants to win.”

To that end, it's not surprising Giordano is intent on ending his high school career with a PIAA gold medal next month at Bucknell.

Giordano was considered a favorite last season after breaking the PIAA record at WPIALs. But he hit his hand on the board while performing a reverse two-and-a-half tuck. The resulting automatic deduction allowed him to place no better than fifth.

“As good as he is,” Doe Krug said, “I hate to put pressure on somebody, but I completely predict he'll dominate the upcoming WPIAL diving championships, and then at states, I don't know if I actually want to use the word ‘dominate,' but he's as good as anyone that's around.”

Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.

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