Two local divers who practiced regularly at Indian River County’s North County Aquatic Center traveled to Boca Raton last week to begin their college journey and join the competitive diving team at Florida Atlantic University. Both divers are from the Osprey ZAP Dive Team.
The FAU team is a great honor that has an elite seven-person squad made up of five female divers and two male divers.
Trinity McNall (Brevard County) and Grace Powell (Indian River County) are familiar faces at the North County Aquatic Center, along with their coach, Jim Kelly. Both divers began their competitive diving careers after being competitive gymnasts for many years and found a passion for diving that suited their athletic and competitive spirits.
McNall, 19, graduated from Brevard County’s Bayside High School in 2021, where she competed for their Swim and Dive Team. She placed 4th place in her Senior year at States and 13th on 1-meter and 8th on 3-meter at AAU Nationals.
Powell, 18, a Vero Beach native, began her diving practice only three years ago as a sophomore in high school after many years of training as a competitive gymnast. Her love of 1-meter and 3-meter diving took off in the Fall of 2019 during her sophomore year. By her second year at Science Hill High School, she broke the 2nd place school record for both a 6 dive and 11 dive meets. She also held second place at the Tennessee High School State Championships in 2021 and 2022.
COVID closures and restrictions were, in some ways, a blessing to the divers on Coach Kelly’s team. With many students remotely learning, their schedules were open to accommodate daily practices and the County only closed the NCAC for a short period of time while safety precautions were developed and implemented.
With the pool and dive well open, wearing facemasks, even in the warm Florida sun, practices resumed after a short time, and the team continued to develop their skills with Coach Kelly’s guidance. The two divers were fortunate as many pools in the northeast closed completely, leaving many competitive high school and college divers with no options for practice.
In fact, some collegiate and high school divers lived in Sebastian to be able to continue their diving practices during their pool closures. The Osprey ZAP Team pressed on through COVID restrictions and school closures and even competed in Indiana for the 2020 AAU Nationals.
Last year, for her freshman year, McNall began her college career at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. She was recruited as a diver for the UNC team, but decided to transfer to FAU for her sophomore year which was her first choice of schools. She is a Pre-Business Management major.
“Diving is my happy place. It’s where I can flip my mood instantly if I’m feeling down. It gives me something to look forward to every day. Diving has taught me about patience and hard work. It’s taught me to work hard to achieve the goals I want and to have patience along with it because nothing is handed to you,” McNall said.
She says she’s most excited about meeting her new FAU team and getting the opportunity to practice outside every day in the place she has always wanted to live. Her parents also live in South Florida and will now have an opportunity to come to FAU Swim and Dive meets throughout the school year.
Powell is a freshman attending FAU with financial assistance from a $1,000 academic scholarship. She has not decided on a major at this point in her academic career but is interested in marine ecology and business, both strong programs at the school. Grace fell in love with the FAU campus last year during a visit and has had her heart set on competing with the FAU Swim and Dive team. Her persistence in contacting the school paid off when she received a call in July that they had a spot on the team for her.
With their perseverance and the guidance of an experienced dive coach, both women are now joining an elite team of competitive divers as Owls with FAU.
North County Aquatic Center
North County Aquatic Center was built in 2002 and is a state-of-the-art aquatics facility with a lap swimming pool, dive well, and children’s zero-entry activity pool with waterslides. Their Olympic-sized pool is filled with over a million gallons of water and is home to the State of Florida Special Olympics annual swim meet. It has two one-meter and two three-meter springboards with a 12 1/2 foot dive well.
The pool often hosts high school swim and dive meets, USA Diving meets, and AAU Diving meets.
Open to the public year-round; the competition lap pool provides residents and visitors an opportunity to swim laps and participate in aquatics programming. Recreation staff regularly offer swim lessons and other water safety classes.
The zero-entry children’s activity pool is open daily during the summer and on the weekends during the fall and winter.
For more information about North County Aquatic Center’s operational hours and facilities, please call 772-226-1752.