On the final day of the 2010 NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships, Drew Livingston and Matt Cooper watched as their teammates swam their hardest to give Texas a lead at the end of the meet. The team rallied on the meet’s final day to pull ahead of California.
The diving duo took the platform with the confidence that their team had done their part. Now, it was their turn.
“We didn’t really say anything to each other, but we knew that if we just make diving finals, our team would win the championship,” Livingston said.
He and Cooper, who were both sophomores at the time, came through with flying (or should I say diving) colors and made the diving finals. They eventually clinched the team’s national championship with Cooper finishing third and Livingston seventh.
Now, they are seniors and itching for a second championship ring.
“I sit back and daydream about what we can really do, and I think we’d both like to have lofty goals,” Cooper said. “I think we can final all three boards, if not better. I think that we can take home that number one trophy, and I think Drew and I can definitely be a big part of that as far as scoring goes.”
Last year, Cooper took the year off from diving. Feeling burnt out, he needed time to determine how committed he was to the sport. But now he is back and better than ever. This season, he has qualified for the Olympic Trials in both the 3-meter and 10-meter event. Livingston has qualified as well.
The two divers, who knew each other before coming to Texas, have solidified their friendship. But that friendship has not diminished their competitive natures.
“We’re just as likely to joke around and laugh all practice as we are to have a contest mid-practice,” Livingston said. “That’s really good because to be the best, you have to beat the best. To have one of the best with you at practice every day, it’s really helpful, and we feed off of it.”
Livingston believes that if he had gone to a school where he trained without people like Cooper and his coaches to push him, he would not be where he is today.
Even away from the pool they love to compete.
“During break when we weren’t practicing diving, we used to go play golf two or three times a week,” Cooper said. “We would go out and use our per diem money and play a few rounds. But now our per diem money is kind of running down. We’ll probably start playing more after NCAAs.”
Cooper played golf when he was younger, but Livingston is still new to the sport.
“I think Cooper is the better golfer, but I’m the better competitor,” Livingston said. “So I take advantage of that sometimes. We can both hold our own.”
Now that Cooper is back, the dual threat on the boards could be exactly what Texas needs to push them to a second national championship in three years.
“It’s really sweet, not just to train with Drew, but I know that if I’m not having my best day, he will be there and vice versa,” Cooper said.
Winning the national title is all they think about. Although Olympic Trials are looming in June, they are enjoying and focusing on their final season as Longhorns.
“I imagined coming to Texas and leaving with a championship,” Livingston said. “I’ve already got one, so why not get one more before I leave?”
Printed on Friday, February 3, 2012 as: Divers team up for championship