After Danica Roskos ’13 captured her second straight national title in the 1-meter dive at the 2012 NCAA Championships, the question on a lot of people’s minds was whether she could do it a third time.
The question on Roskos’ mind was whether she wanted to.
It wasn’t until after the senior marketing major had made history this past March, by becoming the first Division III female diver to capture three consecutive national titles in the same event, that she admitted publicly to entering the 2013 campaign unsure as to whether she even wanted to try to qualify for a third attempt at a national title.
“It was my senior year, and while I knew I wanted to finish out with the team and conference meets…I [had] put a lot of pressure on myself last year,” Roskos explained recently. The stress had been so great on her, she said, that the thought of competing in nationals again seemed “not fun.”
Thankfully she had a strong support system—her family, Coach Candace Gottlieb, and teammate Sabrina Lucchesi ’14—who convinced her to reconsider. “They told me that all they wanted to see was for me to dive at nationals one last time, and they didn’t care how I did,” said Roskos. “That made it a lot easier to go into [the competition] with a better mind set.”
After a memorable qualifying performance in this year’s regionals, Roskos became not only the first Division III female diver to three-peat but also the first TCNJ athlete to win four individual titles. (She captured the 3-meter crown in 2011, the same year she won her first 1-meter championship.)
Roskos won title number four on her last dive of the day: a front one-and-a-half with two twists. It’s a dive she’s had trouble with in the past, she said. Not that time. She scored a 49.40—the highest mark of any diver in the final round.
She approached her winning dive the same way she approached each previous one in her storybook career—getting “mentally in the zone” by listening to music, shutting out all other distractions, and, just before stepping on the board, conferring with Gottlieb, who Roskos said focuses her on the task at hand. It’s a relationship that started even before Roskos transferred to TCNJ from Miami University (Ohio) after her freshman year. As a teenager, Roskos dove with Gottlieb’s club team.
Now that she’s won four national titles under Gottlieb’s tutelage, Roskos credits her coach with more than just making her one of the best divers in Division III history. “She’s not only helped me as an athlete, she’s helped me become the woman I am today,” said Roskos.
“I feel very lucky to have had such a wonderful coach.”
Roskos’ competitive diving days seem to be over. There are senior leagues out there if she ever wants to get back into it, she said. But sounding very much like someone who had competed for the last time, she thanked her parents, Dave and Eileen, for “everything they’ve done for me and for allowing me to have such a great diving career.”
She’ll remain involved with the sport she has become so dominant in, though, by coaching for Penn Brook Swim Club, in Pennington, NJ. It seems her former coach’s influence carries through to that as well. “[Gottlieb] has an extraordinary ability to pay attention to detail that I definitely try to mimic,” Roskos said, before admitting, “But I can’t always do it quite like her.”