Routine ice baths and in-season breaks could be a thing of the past for Valparaiso junior diver Taylor McBride.
McBride suffered a back injury while in gymnastics as an eighth-grader, switched sports, but still continued to battle the pain in the diving well.
This offseason, she started physical therapy and claims to feel much stronger.
"I'm 90 percent better; it makes me feel a lot more confident now," McBride said. "I know I don't have to worry about the back pain."
McBride began gymnastics when she was 6. A couple of years later, she fell off the uneven bars.
"My mom (Kelly) decided to take me out of that sport," McBride said. "She started me to think about diving."
Valparaiso diving coach Scott Valpatic has been impressed with McBride's abilities as a diver since she started the sport.
"It was clear she had a lot of potential in diving (from the first practice)," he said. "Gymnastics shares many movements with diving, so gymnasts typically pick up certain skills very easily.
"She's also very determined, and she has a great attitude."
But the back pain persisted the last two years, forcing mid-season rests. McBride qualified for regional the last two years, but she fell short of state both times, placing 12th and 13th, respectively.
"She wanted more," Valpatic said of McBride. "The goal has been state. She had to take time off, and that didn't allow her to get where she wanted to be."
This summer, the back pain returned. Only this time Kelly McBride and coach Valpatic offered a possible solution. Taylor stopped diving and took physical therapy sessions with Renata Pniak at Lakeshore Bone and Joint Institute.
"I was trying to strengthen my core, back and stomach," McBride said. "(Pniak) also had me doing stretches for my back."
McBride returned to diving in October. During morning practices, McBride incorporates the therapy lessons she learned into a 30- to-45-minute routine.
"It's definitely hard," she said, "but I'm glad to be able to do it."
McBride is now able to move more freely, and coach Valpatic already added two higher degree-of-difficulty dives to her routine (front 2 1/2 tuck, reverse 1 1/2 tuck).
"We feel like we needed to increase the difficulty to increase her odds of advancing past regional," Valpatic said.
Valpatic is holding off on some of the dives with more twists, but McBride hopes for a day when she can complete any dive — and advance to state.
"I'm really excited to keep doing new dives," she said. "I definitely think I'm where I need to be right now."