Stevens: Aubrey Bush Finds MWC Success 33 Feet Above The Water
March 9, 2010
Editor's Note: This story on Aubrey Bush was written March 9, 2010 after Bush became the program's first All-Mountain West performer since 2005.
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
Imagine you are a Lobo asked to compete in the pole vault, but there is no bar, no runway, no pit at UNM. Think you have a chance at conference or making the All-MWC team?
OK, imagine you are a Lobo basketball player asked to compete in the MWC Tournament, but there are no hoops to shoot at over in the Davalos Center. Think you might have trouble winning the Mountain West scoring title?
Yeah, tennis players need a court and a net, golfers need a fairway and a green, and place-kickers find that goal posts come in handy with their kicking thing. But does that mean Lobo diver Aubrey Bush needs a 33-foot platform to flip off in order to find glory in her main event?
Maybe not. And maybe Bush's accomplishment at the 2010 Mountain West Conference Swimming & Diving Championships should be a chapter in some "Believe It Or Not" book rather than a mark in a New Mexico record book.
There is no platform for Bush to practice on over in UNM's natatorium. Actually, Lobo diving coach, Abel Sanchez, is aware of no platforms in the state of New Mexico.
So, how do you think Bush did on the platform at the MWC Championships? Well, she won it to become the program's first MWC champion since 2005. She also was named to the All-MWC team on the 3-meter board where she finished third. UNM does have a 3-meter board.
"If we go to a meet and they have a tower, we'll practice," said Bush, a UNM sophomore. "We don't get to practice a lot, but my body is kind of banged up so I probably shouldn't be hitting the water from that height too often.
"When you hit the water spinning, you hit it pretty hard. If you are leaning over when you hit the water and it blasts you in your chest, you can't breathe. But I love it."
Said Sanchez: "Her best board is platform and we don't have a platform. That makes it really difficult."
Ya think? The story of Bush's rise to platform success takes another cute twist here. Bush actually gets to practice on a makeshift platform that Sanchez has thrown together over at the UNM pool.
The platform is a few inches short of the standard 33-foot tower -- about 32 feet, nine inches short. "We have to find other ways to practice," said Sanchez of the 3-inch platform Bush uses to develop takeoff technique.
"We piece it all together here and there and then Aubrey has to climb up there and do the real thing. If we had a platform, I think she'd be contending for a national championship."
Bush probably is behind the NCAA field a bit because that 3-inch platform over at the UNM pool is a tad low. She also is a bit behind the field because the UNM sophomore has been diving less than three years.
Bush's success on the boards has another amazing twist. She jumped from the gymnastic mats into the water the summer before her senior year in high school.
It was a move based on survival as much as it was love of the water or the board. "My body was taking a beating," she said.
The beating Bush was taking went from head to toe and didn't miss too many body parts in between. She fractured her head on the bar. She had turf toe from the flips and the poundings on the mat. Her knees, shoulders, back all hurt.
She had more broken noses than she could count, so when her high school swim coach suggested she join the swim team -- Bush jumped at the chance and jumped in the water.
"I needed a way to channel my energy," she said. "I had been in gymnastics for about 12 years. I figured I'd just dive my last year in high school and maybe make it to state. Once I figured out I could do it, it was a new challenge."
"She was horrible. I offered her a scholarship then and there," he said.
Bush said she met Sanchez at her first-ever meet. She said she joined a club team prior to her senior year, "so I wouldn't make a fool of myself during the season. When Abel said, `You ought to come to New Mexico,' I didn't know what to think."
Bush's gymnast skills kicked in that day and Sanchez liked the raw talent he saw. "Her mechanics were bad. She looked horrible," said Sanchez. "I walked over to her mom and asked her if I could recruit her daughter right now, right then.
"Her mom looked at me like I was crazy. I offered Aubrey a scholarship that day. She had the right body type, the strength. You could see she had the potential to be really good. I jumped on it."
You could say Bush has been jumping for the Lobos ever since and, sometimes, even off a platform.
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and sports columnist at The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at email@example.com.