Charleston, SC – When senior diver Peter Gibbons climbs onto the diving boards at the Stern Center Pool, he doesn’t look to his right. He doesn’t need to, because he already knows what’s there. It’s the College of Charleston Diving School Records, and Gibbons is listed under every one. With every new dive that he takes, his main competitor now is himself.
With just over a month before the conference championships and only two days before the final home meet of this season, Gibbons is making the final push to end a career that has far outreached that of any male diver in school history.
Gibbons holds every school record in diving and has won the CCSA Male Diver of the Year and Diver of the Meet each of the last two seasons. Just recently, he qualified for the NCAA Zones Meet, one of five regional competitions to determine the participants in the NCAA National Championships. Gibbons will be the first Cougar diver to represent the College at the Zones meet.
“Every year, I’ve known that there is always room for improvement,” Gibbons said. “This year was all about getting a higher score and breaking that 300 mark. A score of 300 is kind of the coveted goal for all divers to break and I did it at South Carolina in the fall. Obviously, getting a score high enough to qualify for zones was the next goal and I was excited to be able to accomplish that too.”
Gibbons hopes to continue his improvement in both the one- and three-meter dives during the final month of the season. He posted his best scores yet just last weekend in the home meet against Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD), compiling a 321.75 score in the one-meter and 287.10 in the three-meter.
However, Gibbons will first have to tackle the bittersweet emotions of competing for the last time at the Stern Center on Friday and Saturday, as the Cougars take on Gardner-Webb in a Senior Day meet.
“It’s definitely pretty sentimental being the last meet,” Gibbons said. “I’ve spent four years here, practicing 20 hours a week here, so there is a lot of attachment. I will definitely miss the sport and hope to stay with it with coaching or something. It’s just going to be a pretty sentimental ordeal with not just Eric [Craig], but all the girls, the seniors I came on the team with and whom we’ve spent the last four years together with.”
Although Gibbons is the only senior in the diving portion of the squad, he plays a role as a leader for the whole team, setting an example of success for all to follow. Last season, Gibbons’ early victories in the CCSA Championships helped spur on the men’s team to its third conference championship since 2008.
“I definitely have a leadership role in the team, but I think it’s more of the respect they have for me,” Gibbons said. “They see that I am succeeding, and they are really happy for me and so there’s that level of respect. Whenever I can say anything to motivate them, they really take it to heart even though swimming is a bit different from diving. We’re all athletes competing for the same goal.”
In just his first season as diving coach, Stephen Julka has already recognized the qualities that make Gibbons so special.
“Peter is the kind of student-athlete that every coach wants the opportunity to work with,” Julka said. “He is driven and confident but also takes direction very well. He’s a great role model for the other divers, and has made my transition seamless. He continues to push himself and will stack right up with the best divers in the southeast region.”
Gibbons will finish his career at College of Charleston with a list of accomplishments for the record books. He will be the trailblazer for future divers to look to and aspire to his success. However, he knows that one of the biggest things that he will take away from his College of Charleston experience is all of the close relationships that he was able to form.
“I came in here not really knowing anyone in my class,” Gibbons said. “Now I leave here with so many good friends that I know I will keep in contact with. I’ve gotten to know them so well because we’ve spent so much time together in the weight room, on deck and traveling to meets. It’s surreal that it’s over, but I know that we will be friends for life.”
And that school record board on the wall to the right of the diving boards? He certainly hopes that incoming classes will eventually eclipse him, but he wouldn’t mind if it said “Peter Gibbons” for just a little bit longer.