Diver Rafael Quintero masters the sport, and being a Wildcat
Courtesy of Ryan Dunn / University of Arizona Athletics
Freshman diver Rafael Quintero, a 2011 U.S. Junior National Champion, started off as an avid gymnast at the age of five until his passion for diving developed.
“When I started, I would dive just once a month,” Quintero said.
“As I began getting better and better, I found myself wanting to perform more and more. There was something about the sport that gave me more satisfaction than what I was getting in gymnastics. That was when I decided to make the final switch from gymnastics to diving.”
By 17, Quintero decided to move to the United States from Puerto Rico and train with YCF Diving in order to improve his technique and earn a scholarship to a college diving program. He soon learned eight new dives off of the 10-meter platform, and mastered his springboard dives.
“I just try to focus on all of the corrections my coach tells me,” Quintero said. “I try not to focus on the outcome.”
After his training with YCF, Quintero was eventually named the U.S. Junior National Champion in the platform event in 2011. That fall, Quintero visited many different universities before joining the UA.
“Arizona has a really good swimming and diving program,” Quintero said. “I really looked forward to training with [former Arizona diver] Omar [Ojeda], the new diving coach. He dove here and he used to dive back with my old coach in Puerto Rico — that was a connection that made me feel close to home.”
Quintero said he has enjoyed the Wildcats’ recent success this season and placed first in the 3-meter dive against USC on Nov. 9. His teammates are happy too.
“I love Rafa,” freshman diver Dominic Ricotta said. “He’s really good and he really motivates the team well. We are expecting to see where he can go, especially with platform and 3-meter this year. I think he can have a really good season.”
Quintero represented Puerto Rico in the Pan American games and subsequently went on to compete in the 2012 Central American Games.
Quintero also said that, recently, the 10-meter platform has become his best and favorite event, even though when he first started diving, it was the event he feared the most.
“It took me months of training to get over the fear, but I persevered,” Quintero said. “Today, when I dive the 10-meter, I know as soon as I hit the water whether I did the dive correctly or not. If it’s good, I feel great. If I didn’t do the dive the way I wanted to, it’s a bummer. My goal is to feel great every time I jump off the board.”