Last season, sophomore Cooper Kosanovich became the first Nazareth Academy diver to compete at the state swimming and diving meet.
“I was really nervous because my dives weren’t as hard as everybody else’s, so I was super stressed,” Kosanovich said. “This year I knew I was just as good as everybody else.”
Kosanovich proved that Feb. 25. He became the Roadrunners’ first top-12 all-state medalist in the sport when he took seventh at the IHSA swimming and diving state championships at FMC Natatorium in Westmont with 457.80 points for 11 dives.
“We don’t even have a pool [at Nazareth] so it’s pretty cool,” said Kosanovich, who trains at FMC. “All of my friends are here so I can’t wait to see them. [The school has been] super supportive and super helpful during the whole process.
“Usually, I get super nervous but I was just trying to be relaxed and tell myself I could do it and I ended up in seventh so I’m really happy.”
Kosanovich has come a long way from 2022, when he was 41st at state (169.75 for 5 dives) among 48 qualifiers but also among just three freshman qualifiers.
In the fall, he began training at FMC with Caiming Xie, who retired in 2020 after 25 seasons as diving coach at the University of Notre Dame. Xie moved to the area to be closer to his son.
“I really liked him and he was a really great coach. He’s been super helpful,” Kosanovich said.
“He’s working hard, a coachable diver and we improved his technique, improved some difficulty of dives,” Xie said. “Next year, we can do even harder dives.”
The Feb. 25 finals were the final three dives for those among the top 12 cumulative scores. Kosanovich was 10th after the preliminaries (329.00) but just 3.75 points from seventh.
Before his final dive, Kosanovich still was 10th. His final dive with a 2.2 difficulty rating, 1.5 somersaults and one twist, earned 8.0s from the judges and 52.80 points to move up three spots.
“I was like, ‘This is my last dive at state. Might all well just go all out, not to be nervous,’ and I nailed that. I was super happy,” Kosanovich said.