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Archive for Wednesday, November 30, 1994

KU SWIMMING

November 30, 1994

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Some people are born to diving greatness, and some have it thrust upon them.

And some divers, like Kansas University junior Michelle Rojohn, simply get bored, take up the sport and, before they know it, they have a Big Eight title to their credit.

"I was always better at gymnastics," Rojohn said. "In high school, I couldn't compete year-round because I hurt my knee and I was bored to death. I got sick of coming home after school and not having anything to do."

So, during the winter of her junior year at Olathe South, Rojohn strolled down to the pool to try diving.

"I never really concentrated on it that hard," she said. "I didn't think I'd stay with it. After the first few weeks of practice, things weren't coming as easily as they had in gymnastics, but I decided I'd stick with it for the rest of the year."

Good thing, too, or else Rojohn, a state gymnastics champion and two-time state diving runner-up, might never have landed a scholarship to KU, and she certainly wouldn't have become the Big Eight three-meter champion last season. And she wouldn't be the school record-holder for dual-meet scores on both the one- and three-meter boards.

"Yeah, it's kinda funny how it all worked out," Rojohn said.

Rojohn will carry a six-meet winning streak into Thursday's Spedo Cup East Invitational. The three-day meet in Chapel Hill, N.C., is the 1994 finale for both the 24th-ranked KU women and the 20th-ranked men. The Jayhawks will resume Jan. 14 at Minnesota.

Rojohn has won the three-meter title at all six of KU's '94 meets and the one-meter title at five of the six meets.

"I'm on a roll," Rojohn said with a laugh. "It means a lot being undefeated. It's a good accomplishment. But you can't win first all the time. You have your ups and downs. It's weird, though, that I haven't had that many mistakes this season. I wouldn't say my streak's in big jeopardy this week, but I know I've got my work cut out for me."

To hear diving coach Don Fearon tell it, Rojohn is up to the task. Even when Rojohn battled through her freshman season with a bout of vertigo and a surgically-repaired knee, Fearon expected big things.

"I've known all along she's got everything it takes," Fearon said. "Wherever we go, she generates comments from other divers and coaches. She's talented."

She's also afraid of heights. So why has she traditionally performed better on the three-meter board than the one-meter board she dove off in high school?

Rojohn has no idea.

"I really don't know," she said. "It took me awhile to get used to getting up there. It took me awhile to overcome my fear of being up that high. When we go to schools with towers, the higher I get the more afraid I get. I've gone off a 7-meter tower, and I've jumped off a 10, but that's as high as I'll go."

Vertigo -- a dizziness induced by an inner-ear infection -- kept Rojohn out of the Big Eight meet her freshman year, but she won the three-meter title -- the first in KU history -- and placed fifth on the one-meter board last season.

"I was really surprised," she said. "I burst into tears as soon as I found out. It was the happiest moment of my life. I still felt like I was a freshman. I didn't think much about it this year until we had that meet at Nebraska a couple weeks ago. When they announced us at the beginning, they were saying the people's names and their accomplishments. They said my name and, 'Defending Big Eight champion.' I hadn't really thought about it until they said it. I try not to let it affect me."

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