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The Plantation Dive Team enjoyed a California gold rush winning the overall team competition in the 2019 AAU Diving National Championship in Riverside, California. Plantation had nine divers make it to the finals in the 1-meter and 3-meter events. (Plantation Dive Team)

The Plantation Dive Team headed to California for the AAU National Diving Championships and came back home with plenty of hardware to show after an impressive performance. Plantation Diving won the men’s title and finished fourth overall in combined totals. There were 21 members of the club who qualified for the national event and 14 divers got their frequent flyer miles after making their way out to the West Coast.

James Boardman and Aiden Gaines set the trend for the team by winning gold in the Boys 13-under synchronized one-meter diving event. The teammates came back to take the silver in the three-meter synchronized diving.

Kailey Bigwood and Catherine Gilroy won silver in the Girls 13U three-meter synchronized diving event and Andres Martinez took the bronze medal in the 3-meter event.

Plantation Dive Team head coach Paul Breitfeller has been on the diving scene at Plantation since 1983 as he and his strong coaching staff led by Jennifer Floyd continue to turn out champions. The 2019 AAU National Men’s championship banner proudly hangs at the Plantation Aquatic Center.

“We had a pretty good dive meet with every member qualifying for the finals,” Breitfeller said. “It was a good performance with the divers achieving what they were capable of doing. Our young guys came up big to win the men’s title and got some recognition for all their hard work.”

The AAU Nationals attracted over 600 divers from 80 teams. The athletes ages ranged from 6 to 21.

“In light of the strength of some of the teams, especially from California, it was a surprising victory,” Breitfeller said. “It was a pretty big meet and on our first day we were met with 105-degree temperatures. James and Aiden are both very talented divers and getting there on top is a difficult task and staying there is even harder. They matched up very well in the synchro and they looked at this as a fun event. It was a team setting where they relied on each other. They were pretty ecstatic.”

The sport of diving is never ending as the high school season is right around the corner for Breitfeller and his St. Andrews Scots dive club. The young divers continue to learn from the experienced older divers.

The Plantation Dive Team is family oriented. Breitfeller helped coach James Broadman’s father Greg who became an All-American in the 1980s and is now coaching the next generation of Broadman’s with James. James Boardman started diving at age 4. The 11-year-old is a student at New River Middle School.

“This was my first synchronized competition and this ranks as No. 1 because I won the gold with Aiden,” James Boardman said. “I was really surprised to win the gold because the other divers were really good, and It was a very close meet. After winning the gold medal, I told my parents that I wanted to go to Disneyland. I’m a big fan of roller coasters.”

Emmett Hall is a South Florida Community News correspondent.

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