Terry Bernal/Daily Journal
San Mateo Daily Journal Athlete of the Week Erik Clark captured his second straight WCAL diving title Saturday with a score of 305.35, the third best overall league total in Serra history.
The career of diver Erik Clark is joined with Serra history.
With the junior beginning his competitive career in the pool as a high school freshman, it was his first year at Serra in which the school opened its state-of-the-art swimming facility. Early that year, Clark was attending a freshman swim mixer and decided to show off some dives for the girls from Notre Dame-Belmont and Mercy-Burlingame. However, it was Serra swimming head coach Bob Greene who really took notice.
Greene quickly enlisted Clark for the Serra diving squad. It proved a solid move, as the junior has captured back-to-back West Catholic Athletic League titles. Saturday at Presentation High School, he wrapped up his second consecutive title with a personal best in league meets with a 305.35 overall score, for which Clark has been named the San Mateo Daily Journal Athlete of the Week.
Clark topped Valley Christian’s Bryan Miner, who took second place with a 297.05 overall score. Valley Christian’s Cameron Broadhead took third place with a score of 262.65, while Serra’s Callum Syme took fourth with a 260.10.
“[Miner and I] were pretty much neck-and-neck,” Clark said. “He’s a great diver and his entries are really good. But I can throw more flips and do higher difficulty dives. He can do a front one-and-a-half, and I can do a front two-and-a-half, which is a [more] difficult dive.”
With the addition of Clark to the diving squad, Serra also scored a new coach — Clark’s father, Jason. After Clark’s freshman season, the Padres were looking for a new coach. And with the hiring of Jason, they landed a former high school All-American from De La Salle who went on to dive for four years at Cal.
“I had no one to help me with diving,” Greene said. “And [Clark] was like, ‘My dad can do it!’ … and he’s been awesome.”
At 5-8, 160 pounds, Clark has something of a particular athletic build suited not just for diving, but also for wrestling. The junior took second place this season in WCAL wrestling in the 160-pound division.
And it’s precisely such a frame which allows for explosive acceleration from the diving board.
“The shorter you are, the more compact you are, the faster you’ll spin,” Clark said. “I just got lucky with the short, stocky body.”
Because he is two-sport athlete, he doesn’t dive year round, which handicaps him against the elite class of divers outside of the WCAL. Earlier this season at an open invitational meet at Palo Alto High School, Clark set his personal best score of 315.50, but settled for fourth place at the event.
“He’s basically a wrestler and this is his third month of three months (straight) of diving,” Jason Clark said. “I’m pretty impressed. … For the guys that just dive in high school, he’s probably the top (in the area).”
Clark has also etched out a place in the Serra record books. Lining the wall of the school’s swimming facility are placards of the Padres’ all-time swimming and diving record. The third best diving score on the wall is that of Marlin Lum from 1986, whose score Clark surpassed with his performance at Saturday’s WCAL finals.
Serra is waiting to replace Lum’s placard though as Clark still has an opportunity to better his personal best.
“I think he’s going to better that at CCS,” Greene said.
Central Coast Section playoffs begin May 17 at the Santa Clara Swim Club.