Sara Bohan took the path less traveled to diving.
The Sebring senior was actually a budding gymnast as a youngster, and diving wasn't even on the radar.
"I had done gymnastics my entire life, all the way through 7th and 8th grade, until my gym closed down," Bohan said. "So my mom guided me towards diving, and I've loved it ever since."
Bohan, who also played soccer and volleyball in middle school, had the athletic background to tackle a new sport. So when she was paired with Sebring dive coach James Dion, a formidable duo was formed.
"I've been so blessed to have coach Dion these last four years," Bohan said. "He's really impacted my life, not just my diving career."
This year, Bohan captured the Class 2A-District 9 diving title, tallying an impressive 353.85 points. In the regional meet, she was one of only five girls to break the 300-point threshold. Bohan finished second with 313.00, which was good enough to earn a trip to the state finals where she capped her high school career by finishing 19th out of 24 participants.
For her efforts, Bohan has been selected as the 2013 Highlands Today All-Highlands Girls Diver of the Year. This is the second straight season that she's won the prestigious award.
"It's such an honor to be chosen by the coaches," Bohan said. "I'm really grateful, especially since this was my senior year. I enjoyed diving so much more this season, because I realized I might never do it again."
Along with more pressure, Bohan's senior season brought added responsibility. Younger Blue Streaks looked to her as a leader, but her coaches knew she was up to the challenge.
"She was a great mentor," said Sebring's swimming coach Pat Caton. "Her experience really helped her with that. She was outstanding."
Bohan, who has tentative plans to dive in college, ranks academics as her highest priority.
"My main focus is school," she said. "I'd really like to dive in college - and there are schools that have shown interest - so if the university has a diving team, that's great. But I'm just looking at it from academic angle and trying to get my education settled first."
Bohan has an interest in marine biology, so staying in Florida is also a priority. She's looked at schools all over the state, most notably Lee County's Florida Gulf Coast University and Florida State in Tallahassee. But wherever she decides to begin her next chapter in life, Bohan knows she'll have her parents' full support.
"They've just been so supportive," she said. "My mom went to FSU, and she's mentioned that she'd like for me to go there. But they've both been great about letting me do what I want to do, whether that includes diving or not."
Tammy Hutchins, freshman, Avon Park - Hutchins was one of Avon Park's freshman phenoms. She's the younger sister of All-Highlands Boys Diver of the Year Domonic Hutchins, and excelling in the sport seems to be Hutchins family trait. Unlike most other underclassmen, Hutchins worked on 11 different dives this season. At the Class 2A-Distrit 9 meet earlier this year, she tallied 278 points.
"She's just been so great," said Avon Park diving coach Shane Wirries. "We usually start slow, working in a few dives, helping the kids with their technique and increasing the degree of difficulty as the season goes along. But out of all the girls, who were all brand new, Tammy was just so far ahead of the curve."
Robbye Teal, junior, Lake Placid - Teal was one of a handful of Lake Placid divers to compete in the Class 1A-District 6 diving meet in Winter Haven back in October. She had the highest point total of any Green Dragons girl, finishing second overall with 266.25 points. Her quick turnaround after a head injury drew a lot of praise from her coaches.
Phoebe Phypers, freshman, Lake Placid - Phypers nabbed sixth place at the 1A-6 meet, tallying an impressive 249.20 points for the second-highest finish on the Green Dragons girls team.
"Phoebe brings passion every time she steps onto the pool deck," said Lake Placid diving coach D.J. Brouwer. "She goes right to the diving boards to work or better herself and her team."
Destiny Johnson, freshman, Lake Placid - Johnson was the only other female diver aside from Phypers and Teal who competed for the Green Dragons in the 1A-6 district meet in Winter Haven. Only a freshman, Johnson amassed over 200 points (206.80) in her first district meet, which was good for seventh place. But her disposition is what's really impressed Brouwer.
"Destiny is very practical," he said. "She always shows concern for her teammates."
Sarah Higher, junior, Avon Park - A standout on the plank for Avon Park, Higher was noted for ability to balance both swimming and diving over the season, routinely getting the Red Devils points whether she was doing laps in the pool or springing off of the diving board.
"She dove really well," Wirries said. "We could always count her to get us a few points."
Sumintra Williams, senior, Avon Park - One of the few senior divers on the Red Devils, Williams was also adept at balancing swimming and diving throughout the season.
"She's another diver that I just wish I had more time with," Wirries said. "She's shown improvement over the year, especially in her comfort on the board. She did a really good job."
Coach of the Year
For his efforts in rejuvenating the girls diving program at Avon Park, Shane Wirries has been selected as the Highlands Today All-Highlands Girls Diving Coach of the Year.