When a challenge arises, Portage junior John Fannin dives right in to come up with a solution.
Fannin, who started diving the summer before he was a freshman, finished fifth last season at the sectional -- just 16.2 points away from advancing to regional.
It's just one of many factors driving Fannin this season.
"I looked at (last year's sectional) as an opportunity, and I knew I had a chance," said Fannin, who is also ranked second in his class. "I didn't want to be the guy who finished fifth, and then it happened. That gave me the motivation for this year; it's made me want to work even harder."
Fannin understands he must improve, since all four regional qualifiers return this season -- and each one competed at state. LaPorte's Josh Arndt is the defending state champ and Valparaiso's Muyenda Burnett was second.
Safe to say, his diving list has been altered -- mainly with the addition of the reverse 2 1/2 in the tuck position (3.0 degree of difficulty).
Just a month after the season was over, co-diving coach Joe Hulse was working with Fannin on reverse double dives -- and then he asked the junior to add a tuck.
"I kind of looked at him; I had never done that one before," Fannin said. (Then teammate) Alex Rosales had tried it before, and I remember him smacking the water hard with his shoulder (on entry) and having a pretty big bruise on his shoulder.
"I was on the board for about four or five minutes going through the dive. I was freaking out, and then I did it."
Fannin recalls the first attempt wasn't perfect, but he didn't have any pain. Now, it's a crucial dive in his list.
Hulse explained his reasoning for the decision, using a dive he hasn't used with any other of his divers in his coaching career.
"He has some fast-twitch muscle fibers," Hulse said, "and he's some dynamic strength in his legs."
Co-coach Brandy Evans loves Fannin's work ethic.
"He pushes himself and that is basically what makes or breaks a diver," Evans said of Fannin, who routinely stands on the deck and goes through his dives. "John is a perfectionist, and he tries to do what he can.
"He's also willing to try new things."
A couple of new things have transpired since the summer -- and Fannin took them in stride.
Rosales, who finished 15th at state, transferred to Griffith this season.
"When I first found out, I was shocked," Fannin said. "I just knew someone would have to step up."
In his first meet of the season, Fannin hit the board on his next-to-last dive against Merrillville. Undaunted, he returned to the board and finished with a reportedly season-high 252.
"Everyone kept asking if I was OK, and I didn't want anyone to panic," Fannin said. "I just trusted what I could do. I think I did a pretty good job of recovering."