Alexandria's Kyler Kavanagh qualifies for USA Diving Junior National meet

Before beginning his freshman year of high school, Alexandria's Kyler Kavanagh will head to Midland, Texas to compete in the 14-15 boys 1m and 3m dive at the USA Diving Junior National Championships.

Alexandria's Kyler Kavanagh dives at the Class A state meet on March 5, 2022, where he finished 14th as an 8th-grader, with a finals score of 321.45. Kavanagh is set to compete at the USA Diving Junior Nationals in the 1m and 3m dives in Midland, Texas, from July 25 to Aug. 2, 2022. <br/>
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

Alexandria’s Kyler Kavanagh had an opportunity to build on an impressive winter season from this past school year, and he has worked hard to take advantage of that in the offseason.

Kavanagh, who will be a freshman at Alexandria Area High School in the fall, has built off of his 14th-place finish at the MSHSL Class A swim and dive state meet with his results in summer diving competitions.

His top finishes at recent regional competitions has earned him a spot at the USA Diving Junior National Championships in Midland, Texas, at COM Aquatics. The championships run from July 25 to Aug. 2 in the boys 14-15 1m and 3m dive.

Caden, a senior and three-time state entrant, enjoyed every minute of watching his younger brother flourish alongside him this season. He says the sky is the limit now for Kyler, an 8th-grader who Caden and diving coach Aaron Rooney said has the want-to and work ethic to do big things over the rest of his career.

Kavanagh finished fourth and sixth in the 1m and 3m dives at both the USA Diving Region 8 Championships on May 6-8 in Iowa City, Iowa, and the USA Diving Zone D Championships in Columbia, Missouri, on June 23-25.

“I liked being there and performing because the people around me were performing well too, and it was quite a competitive atmosphere,” Kavanagh said after a practice at the Discovery Middle School pool in Alexandria on July 12. “It felt really good to qualify and I’m excited for nationals.”


His goals at nationals are simple, have fun and learn from the best.

1-Kyler Kavanagh-DSC_3187.JPG
Soon-to-be freshman Kyler Kavanagh practices at the Discovery Middle School pool on July 12, 2022. Kavanagh has qualified for the USA Diving Junior National Championships in the boys 14-15 1m and 3m dives. The championships run from July 25-Aug. 2, 2022, in Midland, Texas.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

“In Texas, one of my goals is to just not compare myself to other divers and just do what's best for me,” Kavanagh said. “And it'll be fun to see divers that I can look up to that are my age.”

At the Region 8 Championships, Kavanagh placed sixth in the 3m dive (229.95) and fourth (260.70) in the 1m dive (top 15 advanced to zone championships).

Kavanagh’s scores improved from the regional championships to the zone championships. In the 3m dive, Kavangh placed sixth once again with 273.05 and in the 1m dive he placed fourth with a 275.75.

The top-10 finishers in each zone qualified for the junior national meet.

With his fourth place finish in the 1m at the zone championships, Kavanagh has already qualified for the semifinals.

Throughout the summer, Kavanagh has carried an attitude that the high school season isn’t over and that there is still work to be done.

“I’ve been thinking about it as we're not done with the season even though the season has ended,” Kavanagh said. “We're just going to keep working.”


Kyler’s brother, Caden, who was a senior this past year, has left a big impact and has helped Kyler grow in diving, along with Kyler’s coaches. At the state diving meet this past winter, Caden finished one spot (13th) ahead of Kyler with a score of 335.55, while Kyler scored 321.45.

Kavanaghs and Aaron Rooney
Alexandria diving coach Aaron Rooney watches video with state divers Kyler Kavanagh, middle, and Caden Kavanagh during the Class A state meet on March 5, 2022. Kyler, who has qualified for the 2022 USA Diving Junior National Championships from July 25 to Aug. 2, 2022, in Midland, Texas, says that Caden and Rooney have been big inspirations for him.
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

“I think a big thing that has helped me a lot is my older brother,” Kavanagh said. “He encouraged me to try my best and to keep moving forward. And that's helped me improve a lot.”

Kavanagh has split his time in the offseason working with the North Star Diving Club in the Twin Cities with coaches Jason Baumann and Arron Carlson while attending diving camps held by Alexandria diving coach Aaron Rooney.

“It's not just the talent that separates Kyler, it's the obsession to always want to get better,” Rooney said. “He has a drive that is impressive and has me constantly asking other coaches what I can do to help him continue to grow and improve. My goal is to meet every athlete where they are at. With Kyler, I'm always elevating to a new level. He has some big goals and we have a really great team around him between his parents, Jason Baumann at Northstar Diving Club as well as Arron Carlson. We all just want what is best for Kyler and to keep that fire going. I'm really proud of what he and his family are willing to do for his diving. We are fairly limited up here with time constraints, coach/athlete contact training restraints, and lack of elite facilities. For him to seek training elsewhere with more opportunities has been incredible.”

The Cardinals fell to perennial power Breck-Blake, but five second-place finishes helped Alexandria hold off St. Thomas Academy for second place in the team standings with four talented seniors leading the way in their final meet.

For a young athlete like Kavanagh, every training opportunity is a chance to make incremental improvements that will add up to better results over time.

“I've learned how to spot, how to keep my head down better and I’ve learned how to have better tuck positions,” Kavanagh said. “And this isn't with high school, but I have learned 3-meter diving and that's going to help for after high school, in college.”

Technique-wise, Kavanagh said that there hasn’t been a ton of new things for him but that he’s sharpened some things up.

“Last year, I kind of already learned all the dives that I needed to know,” Kavanagh said. “So lately, we've been working on the small things like pointing my shoulders and reaching further. Over the summer, my goal was just to have fun, don't slow down with diving and it's worked.”


The top two finishers at the USA Diving Junior National Championships will qualify for a spot on the junior team for the U.S. at the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) Juniors World Championships in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, from Nov. 27 to Dec. 4, 2022.

“The USA diving junior nationals meet will be a great experience for him,” Rooney said. “In the high school setting, he's a good diver but to now match up with the best in the country for his age will be a huge test, and I know he is excited to be on deck with some big names in our sport.”

Sam Stuve covers a variety of sports in the Douglas County area. He also is assigned to do some news stories as well.
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