Matt Murray Jumps Into Men's Diving Team, Not Mosh Pits

Mention diving to the average Harvard student, and you might hear about snorkeling in the Bahamas, parachuting out of an airplane or leaping off a stage at a Beastie Boys concert.

Mention it to freshman Matt Murray, and you'll probably get an earful about forwards, reverses and twisters.

In case you were expecting to read about moshing techniques, here's a quick diving primer. Diving events make up three of the 22 categories in an intercollegiate swimming competition. The one-meter dive, three-meter dive, and the 10-meter dive are each evaluated by judges for artistic merit and degree of difficulty. After the highest and lowest marks are thrown out (no need to worry about that nasty East German judge), a composite score is calculated for each diver based on the above criteria and the competitor with the highest total wins the event, thereby earning points for his or her team.

As half of Harvard's men's diving team, Murray has already made his presence felt in the Eastern Intercollegiate Swimming League. He and teammate Vaughn Emerson, a junior, have placed at or near the top in both of their meets this year, contributing to convincing Crimson victories over Columbia and Army.

Against Army, Emerson edged out Murray for first place in the one-meter dive, while Murray took the three-meter competition, with Emerson finishing second.


You see, while most kids his age had diving repertoires consisting of the cannonball and the belly flop, Murray was training three times a week with a coach at his local swim club in Washington, D.C.

"I had a couple of friends who had done it before, and they told me I should try it," Murray says. "I started out diving in the summer for fun, but soon I was diving all year round."

By the time he was 13, Murray was representing his Hopkins Diving Club at the Junior National Championships as one of the top young divers on the eastern coast.

"I could have been up there in the top 10, but I had the worst meet of my life," Murray recalls. "I don't know what they thought of me."

Apparently, they thought enough of him to come calling when it came time for college. Murray was actively recruited by both Columbia and Harvard. But after a recruiting trip to the home of the Lions, the choice was an easy one for the Weld Hall resident.

"Columbia's pool was just really bad," he says.

Despite having to adjust to a more rigorous practice schedule than he was accustomed, Murray feels he has stepped into an ideal situation at Harvard.

"My training regimen is very different now," he points out. "I used to practice three times a week and those practices were optional. Now, I have mandatory practices Monday through Saturday and extra early morning workouts Monday and Wednesday, but [Harvard diving coach Keith Miller] is a quality coach. You can't help but get better if you dive every day."

And though he competes in a sport which places great emphasis on the individual, Murray has found that with Emerson around, he is not alone.

"It's not competitive," Murray says of his relationship with his more experienced teammate. "When I first got here, I didn't know what the procedure was for the meets, but Vaughn has helped a lot."

With this weekend's Harvard Invitational looming on the schedule, Murray is upbeat about the team's prospects in his first season.

"Our only real competition is Princeton, but I have a feeling we'll beat them," he says. "Navy has great divers, Yale has great divers and Princeton has great divers, but I feel we can win the league."

That's a lot of confidence for a newcomer to the collegiate diving scene, but it takes confidence to dive, whether it be 100 feet below the ocean's surface, 10,000 feet above the ground, five feet above a mobbed mosh pit, or off of a one-meter diving board, in Matt Murray's case.