The only time Judy Read sees her son, Tyler, truly relax is when he’s around a diving board.
Depression, anxiety, ADHD and a tic disorder have plagued Tyler Read, a Richmond native and junior at Grove Christian School, since childhood.
But the two-time American diver who committed to Ohio State has since his youth found in diving a valuable outlet that has given him that otherwise elusive confidence and social structure.
And that connection to the sport he loves has perhaps never been stronger than on Saturday, when Read broke the VISAA diving record (previously 571) with a score of 574.2 at the state meet. from Saturday to Sterling.
“Social anxiety is a huge thing for him,” Judy Read said. “So one of the things we found, even at a very young age, was that he was more comfortable around a diving board.”
Read, whose personal best for an 11-dive event is 613, began diving in a summer league when he was around 5 years old. He remembers an immediate affinity for the sport. Swimming bored him. Flying through the air in the water was much more fun.
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“I used to be really upset when the season ended,” he said. “Because it was only summer and I had to go all year before I could dive again. And so I found a year-round program. I was like, ‘Awesome. I can dive all the time.'”
Power beyond her years defines Read’s style on the board, her trainer told DiveRVA Diane Maiese, judge at Saturday’s meet, former coach at the University of Richmond and the first black female diver to win a national championship. varsity at Division III Trenton State in 1997. .
Although power-generated height and explosiveness off the board are Read’s calling cards, Maiese said he also shows grace in the air, moving fluidly through somersaults and twists. . Tyler added that he’s been working on improving the finesse side of his game.
“His dives were above and beyond anyone else’s with the degree of difficulty and execution,” Maiese said.
“He literally jumps three feet, if not more, higher than any other competitor. Then he enters the water without a splash. He’s a beautiful diver to watch. … He makes dives that men been doing since he was a freshman in high school.”
Maiese has been coaching Read since eighth grade and taking him to the Olympic trials to see the best in the country compete, “because it’s going to be Tyler one day. He’s got so much potential.”
Tim Fisher, Read’s trainer at an Alexandria diving club since 2017, called him an aerobatic diver, also noting his exceptional power. Fisher said Read performed Division I-level dives like a 3 1/2 front pike on a 1-yard board.
Read is primarily a springboard diver as opposed to its sister discipline, tower diving. He’s twice made the final, or top 12, at the USA Diving Nationals, and he’s at the top of his age group nationally, Fisher said, adding that Ohio State is a elite program led by two-time Big Ten Men’s Diving Coach of the Year Justin. Sochor.
At the AAU National Championships, Tyler has won eight times. But he was hesitant to list that particular achievement during a Zoom interview last week because he didn’t want to sound like he was bragging.
Read dreams of placing in the top 12 at the Olympic trials for the games of 2024 and 2028.
“He’s a great boy, he’s got an exceptional character,” Fisher said. “He’s a great teammate, pushes everyone, motivates people and is there when they need him. His college coach is very lucky to have someone with his character and ability. In the together he is an exceptional young man.”
When Tyler was young, teachers at school would tell Judy and Tyler’s father, David Read, that Tyler wouldn’t play with anyone on the playground, rather he would circle around trees or engage in otherwise introverted behavior .
“But we’d be in a pool, even one he’d never been in before, and next to a diving board we’d hardly recognize him. ‘Who’s that kid over there making a fuss at? any other kids?'” Judy Read said, as she watched Tyler warm up for USA on Friday, relax and socialize with her competitors.
“There’s just something about the water, getting off the board and moving through the air that gives him confidence, he finds it very therapeutic and it helps him relax.”
Tyler has learned to control his tics while diving, but sometimes has to stand on the board longer than most to calm down. He didn’t suffer much from the stigma of what his mother described as a very welcoming, inclusive and supportive diving community.
Although Tyler was once called “the Asian kid with the tics” when meeting, Judy Read said that label didn’t phase her son because he was doing the thing at the time that made him most comfortable, diving.
Maiese, who was honored as VISAA Coach of the Year, said the 25 other Richmond divers at Saturday’s meet were all cheering on Read.
While other parents typically film their kids diving during encounters, Judy Read takes photos and videos of her son talking to other divers.
“For us, that’s the most important thing, being able to function socially,” she said. “How he grew as a human being, as a teenager, that’s a win for us.”
When she dove in, Maiese said it was a release. She had total control, and nothing else had power over her.
She thinks the sport offers Read a similar version.
“It was me, the board and the water, and you see that in Tyler,” she said. “When he dives, he is at peace.”