This week I caught up with sophomore Kahlia Warner, a member of the University of Florida Diving team and two-time recipient of the SEC Female Diver of the Week award after her outstanding performances against the University of Georgia and the University of Alabama. This Queensland, Australia native was all smiles during the interview about what gets her in the zone before a competition.
Kahlia starts off her competition day with a particular hairstyle, a French braid into a ponytail, saying it was a tradition from her homeland team and is about as close as she gets to a lucky charm. As far as eating, she prefers not to eat a great deal, only something to get her body going, jokingly saying “I’m too nervous to eat and I want to avoid getting sick; no one wants puke in the pool.”
After changing into her competition suit, one that is preferably not new and has been worn before, Warner heads onto the pool deck earphones in and in her own zone. I questioned her music choice, to which she laughed and replied “I have a Nicki Minaj playlist. Her Nicki playlist lets her goof around dancing, allowing her to forget the nerves building inside and it seems to work: Warner had season best scores during the meet against Alabama with a score of 307.13 on one meter and 353.03 on three meter (Gatorzone.com).
Once competition begins Warner imitates her hurdle approach before every dive with a hurdle in fear of starting her approach with the wrong leg during the competition, a totally reasonable ritual to have, being as this is more common than the average fan might think. After stepping on the board Kahlia, also known as Kahlz by her teammates, takes a deep breath to calm her nerves so she can perform to the best of her ability. Kahlia tries to keep her mind off the performance of the divers she’s competing against saying “I control what I can control and don’t worry about everyone else and their performance.”
This Aussie brings laughter and dancing to every practice, along with some off-key singing which the whole team joins in on. She brings a relaxed and fun attitude to every practice, which helps her to perform without added stress of being too serious. So the next time you stop by the O’Connell Center for a Gator Swim and Dive meet, you know how the blonde Aussie prepares herself for competition.