Jericho's Bernstein diving right in
Jordan Bernstein doesn't really remember when he started diving. He doesn't really remember why he started diving. Perhaps it's something innate that can't be explained. Perhaps it's just that Bernstein has trained himself so much to focus on the next dive, he's forgotten about the ones before.
"Just moving forward, that's all I can think of,'' he said. "You can't really change the past. You just have to move forward.''
Wherever he goes, Bernstein moves forward as a champion.
Bernstein, a junior at Jericho, scored 423.85 to win the 2011 Nassau boys diving championships Wednesday at the Nassau Aquatic Center. Bernstein averaged a 38.53 and scored more than 50 points twice. Last year's champ, Manhasset's Peter Magliulo, took second with a 381.35.
The score bested Bernstein's mark from the Division B championships on Feb. 2, where he totaled 408.70 to make the state tournament. Divers must score better than a 396 to qualify for the state tourney.
"Making states was incredible for me,'' Bernstein said. "It really shows my progress from last year, and I like to look upon that progress as I move forward. Now it's time to go for a higher bar and do even better.''
The achievement is all the more amazing when you consider that Bernstein only began diving competitively as a sophomore. He broke the Jericho school record that year, according to coach Richard Stern, and placed third at the 2010 counties, scoring a 388.50. Bernstein came agonizingly close to qualifying for states, missing the cut by just 7.5 points. But the rookie diver couldn't care less.
"The first thing I thought was congratulations to Peter ,'' Bernstein said. "It didn't hit me until after I heard he made states.''
There's a photo from that meet showing Bernstein as the scores are announced. Despite knowing his high school season would end that night, his smile would make you think he just won the Olympics.
"From last year's beginning to the end, it was unbelievable and remarkable,'' Stern said. "Then this year he came back with a fire. The first meet of the year he broke his own six-dive meet record. And he broke that three times during the year. He lost twice during the season, but I think that those two made him realize that it's not going to come easy.''
Bernstein's offseason focus was on streamlining his dives, and he worked with top instructor George Taylor III of club team Long Island Swimming and Diving.
"I had more practice, especially more practice,'' he said. "At home I would go to my weight room and do whatever I could to keep fit. I stretched more and made sure I was more flexible. Tried to make myself more toned. I wanted to make my body ready for what was coming my way.''
That training came in handy Wednesday after Bernstein found himself in double-trouble: He was unhappy with his first few scores and Magliulo was competing hard against him.
"He was mad at himself, so I sat him down and told him to calm down,'' Stern said. "He started to realize that he had already set himself up for states, and then he just had fun.''
Bernstein took off after the talk, scoring a 43.70 in his third dive and then nailing his fifth with a whopping total of 50.60.
"He makes the hard ones look easy,'' Stern said. "His last dive is a back-dive, one somersault, two-and-a-half twist. It's got a degree of difficulty of 2.7, one of the highest you can throw. And he makes it look easy.''
The ease comes with a certain mentality.
"It was hard at first, but soon I had begun to realize, you can't really change what you did,'' Bernstein said. "You have to move forward. And really you can do anything you want to, as long as you put your mind to it. I know that sounds corny, but it really is true.''
Something to remember.