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June 18
“Flying Through the Air” with Michael Benedetta

When last I spoke with COS diver Michael Benedetta, he was off to compete in the State Championships​. Benedetta came away from the meet with All America honors, medaling 6th on the 3 meter and 8th on the 1 meter. That wound up a great season that had a rough start, his first at COS, stuck on land after the first two weeks with a concussion requiring him to sit out a week and relearn what he’d missed.

The El Diamante High School grad started his journey toward the competitive diving board on the hunt for something that would keep him busy, challenge him with variety, and have the added benefit of relaxing a sometimes angry younger self. Living in Orange County prior to transplanting to Visalia with his aunt and uncle at 10 years old, Benedetta was in the Foster Care system. He says sports always seemed like a good outlet for stress, and he competed in football and wrestling as well. Having clearly exorcised any frustrations, he says his favorite part of diving, “is flying through the air,” and the drop time between sky and water; “that’s the best part.”

“Coming from my background,” Benedetta says he wants to help people in his career. He is studying business administration at COS and plans to take a few criminology classes and with his degree, enroll in the COS Police Academy.

Off-campus, Giants fans might run into 18-year-old Benedetta at one of his three jobs: Henry Salazar’s, Black Bear Diner, and coaching at Redwood High School, offered by diving coach Diedra Alves. He commends his uncle for providing him an example of hard work. Benedetta says he hardly saw his uncle when they first moved to Visalia, but that was because his uncle was either hard at work providing for the family or holed up in the office working to get his degree online so he could provide even more. “That’s a good role model for me,” says Benedetta. “Do the hard work that’s necessary no matter how long it takes or how hard it is on you.”

Hard work may not be the way to improve Benedetta’s swimming abilities, however, and he jokes about his sparse stroke skills. “I’ve actually had swimmers try to teach me to swim and they’re like, ‘I give up; you’re hopeless.’ I can swim from wherever I land to the edge of the pool and that’s good enough.”

Benedetta promises to be back on campus and in the pool next year, “assuming no injuries,” he laughs.

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