When he’s in the classroom, junior Sam Dorman focuses on solving engineering problems. But when Dorman is flying off the end of a springboard, his mind is fixed on a clean landing.
Dorman, 22, a mechanical engineering major, finished first in three events at the AT&T National Diving Championships in August. He says it’s a challenge to juggle two commitments that he’s equally passionate about.
“I have no time in my life – school and diving takes over,” he said. “I am behind in school during the week because of diving, so I study all weekend to catch up.”
But, he added, “It’s all worth it.”
Dorman began diving at age 8 at a local pool in his hometown of Tempe, Ariz.
“I went to that pool every day with my brother, and I ran straight to the diving board,” he said. “They had a small recreational dive team that I signed up for.”
The coach of that team was also a diver at Arizona State University, and he encouraged Dorman to try out for the ASU club team.
Dorman dove with the ASU club team for years before joining the UM men’s diving team in 2009. Now he’s a redshirt junior after sitting out the 2012 season as he recovered from shoulder surgery.
“Sam didn’t come in as the best diver in the recruiting class, but he came in with the most potential,” coach Randy Ableman said. “That’s what I saw in him and that’s important.”
According to Ableman, Dorman has focused on the springboard competitions because of his success in those events and because it isn’t too hard on the body.
Dorman has suffered multiple injuries and gone through numerous surgeries over his diving career.
“I’m still learning how to walk after shattering my right foot eight years ago,” he said.
He said that’s when the doubts set in at age 14, he thought about quitting.
“I was simply scared of the dive,” Dorman remembers.
But he fought through his fears for the love of the sport, and went on to achieve national and international success.
Two months ago in Iowa, Dorman won the men’s one- and three-meter springboard titles. Then, along with UM teammate Zac Nees, he came from behind to win the three-meter synchronized springboard competition too.
The three gold medals earned Dorman the men’s High Point Award.
“Sam is very self-motivated. He deserves that award,” said Cyndi Hoppler, a freshman diver on the UM women’s team. “He works really hard and is constantly pushing to get better – in dive and in school.”
In July, Dorman and Nees placed fourth in synchronized diving at the World University Games in Russia.
Dorman tried out for the 2012 Olympic team, but didn’t make the squad. He has his eyes set on 2016 and beyond.
“If all goes well, I’ll keep going until the 2020 Olympics and maybe get my master’s,” he said.