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Monday, March 30, 2009

Lamdin News Video

Say this about Kelsey Lamdin's college diving career:

She went out with a bang.

A senior at Bates, Lamdin hit her hands and head on the board Friday while warming up for the NCAA Division III diving championships at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

After a lot of blood and a quick trip to a nearby emergency room, Lamdin returned with 15 staples in her scalp, a black bathing cap holding everything together, and 12 minutes to prepare for the final dives of her career.

Somehow she managed to place 10th, earn her eighth All-America honor and become the most decorated diver in Bates history.

"I couldn't imagine a more amazing sequence of events," said Bates Coach Peter Casares. "It was a phenomenal display of courage."
At Bates, she reached the 1-meter and 3-meter national championships all four years. The top eight divers advance from the preliminaries to the night finals, and she did so every year, finishing sixth as a freshman at 3 meters, fifth as a sophomore at 1, seventh as a junior at 3 and sixth last week at 3.

"Kelsey is always full of surprises, but when it's time to compete, she's ready to go," said Bates diving coach Mike Bartley. "That's something I've always marveled about her. I've never seen her wash out."


Bartley, 64, competed in the 1964 Olympic trials. He has coached diving for 41 years, the past 18 at Bates. Never has he had a diver experience what he called a "serious head strike." Until Friday. At first, both Bartley and Lamdin thought only her hands had hit the board.

"I was immediately angry," Lamdin said.

"I couldn't believe I hit the board. It was my hands that hurt the most, my forearms and hands, because the board is painted with sand and it just rips you apart. My head didn't hurt at all."

Not until she prepared to climb out of the pool did she notice the blood dripping off her head. A University of Minnesota trainer examined her for a possible concussion or neck injury and sent her to a hospital two blocks away. The competition was scheduled to begin in an hour and 20 minutes.

"I thought they'd make me scratch," Lamdin said. "You work four years. It was my last meet. I was (peeved)."


In a busy emergency room, Bartley explained the situation to a nurse, who quickly found a doctor, who examined Lamdin's neck and scalp, which turned out to have two lacerations. Anesthesia would have remained in her system through the diving, so she declined any painkillers while the doctor stapled her up.

Lamdin changed into her competition suit, accepted the Bates swim cap from Casares, who had brought it from the hotel, and returned to the pool. "Fastest hospital visit I've ever had," she said. "I got out of there in under an hour."

"Everyone was like, 'Why are you here?'" Lamdin said. "I told them there's no way I'm not competing. It's my senior year. It's my last meet. I've worked too hard to just give up." From there it was a matter of keeping her blood-soaked hair from dripping into the pool. Twice an official warned Bartley that Lamdin could be disqualified. Each time she ducked into the shower room to rinse her hair below the wounds.

Then there was the fifth dive to get through, the reverse one-and-a-half. Lamdin had plenty of time to think. "There's no chance I'm hitting the board again," she said. "I knew what I did wrong. I've done the dive so many times, I knew how to fix it."

She focused on jumping out, away from the board, punching her hands past her face, and landed cleanly. She didn't exactly nail any of her dives, but then, she had 15 staples and a right hand swollen to the size of a balloon.

"I kept checking with her," Bartley said. She kept saying, 'I'm doing fine, coach.'"


Now that Lamdin is back on campus, her concern is with typing up several papers and writing her thesis on Viking migration. She's an anthropology major due to graduate this spring. The staples will be removed soon. Not so the memory of her final college competition.

"So many times, adversity leads to great moments," Casares said. "I wouldn't wish it upon anyone, but she sure made the best of it."

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