Each winter, the Belfast Area High school swim team has a little something many Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B schools do not. It is not a secret treasure or tons of more school spirit, although the swimmers may tell you otherwise. It is something simple.

For decades, the Lions have, and continue to have, divers on their swim team. And extremely talented divers at that.

Belfast coach Bob Winslow has been leading the BAHS boys swim team and divers for 37 years. In that time, he said the Lions have always had divers, something many of BAHS’ opponents cannot match.

Winslow admitted he has had more experience coaching the BAHS male divers, but the Lions have had strong female divers as well, most notably and recently, Amber Resmini.

Coach Winslow said diving is less prevalent now than it used to be. “[Diving] was an integral part of the [Belfast] swimming program,” he said. “It’s always been an event in high school meets and years ago it used to be an event in the YMCA, but because of liability insurance and things, a lot of the new YMCAs being built today don’t have diving boards in them.”

Winslow said the newer high schools do not always have diving for the same reason. According to him, fewer than half of the schools in the KVAC have divers.

However, the opponent’s loss is Belfast’s gain.

Scoring valuable points in diving helped the Lion boys and girls swim teams again capture KVAC Class B championships and perform well at the state Class B meet (the Lion boys were third overall) during the recently-concluded season.

Because diving is still an event in high school swim meets, the divers who participate get the points. That means if a team does not have divers then it cannot gain those possible points. However, Belfast has the divers so it often gains a significant comparative advantage.

That is not to say Belfast beats foes and wins meets solely because of diving because their swimmers are talented and compile a bulk of the team’s points. However, the divers also do their part.

Senior Resmini is at the head of the diving squad. “She comes from a gymnastics background and is an outstanding diver,” Winslow said.

Last year, Resmini finished fourth in the state championships and seventh in New England as a junior. This season at the Falmouth Invitational, she finished third in a mix of Class A and B divers. She also placed second in both the KVAC and state Class B championships this winter. She was ranked first in the state during the prelim round.

However, the Lions have other skilled divers as well.

Allison James, a sophomore, also competed at the state meet as a freshman where she finished eighth (she was seventh at the states this year). It is important to note that the state meet requires divers to master 11 dives.

“That usually separates people,” Winslow said.  “A lot of people can have six or seven dives, but to be able to do 11 different dives — two out of every category plus an extra one — that separates them.”

For the Lion boys, Taylor Light finished second in state diving at last month’s championships.

Winslow also noted the talent of Carson Beck, who, as a freshman last year, finished second in the state meet.

“Carson and Allie were kind of the exception to the rule,” Winslow said. “Kind of unusual to have a freshman get that many dives and to qualify for the state.”

Winslow requires his divers not only to dive every day at practice but to swim two days a week as well. He said that this helps the team at meets, makes the divers better all-around athletes and also builds camaraderie.

“Their main concentration is diving, but they do have to swim some individual events, swim some relays,” he said. “On a small team everybody has to do something.”

“I couldn’t have people that, half the season [they are] just doing something [such as] diving and then not helping contribute to the team,” the coach said. “And also they became more a part of the team by doing that.”

Resmini and James are the only female divers for the Lions, but the boys squad includes Beck, Chris Caswell, David Gaulin, Carl Pillitteri, Light and Jack Smith. Kassandra Carl and Antonia Flagg are also working on diving.

One of the remarkable things Winslow has noticed about his divers is the crossover between diving and other sports.

He said the girls, including Resmini and James, come from a gymnastics background. The boys, he said, board.

“There is a lot of carry over into the sport of snowboarding, skateboarding and diving,” he said. “A lot of body control and body awareness in the air.”

“A lot of these kids, especially the boys who are coming into dive, have either skateboarding or snowboarding experience, so that’s where they get that ability,” the coach said.

“It’s just a carry over. I had a boy years and years ago that went to the famous Carrabassett Valley [Academy] ski school up there at Sugarloaf [USA] and he was one of my divers and swimmers. He ended up being a professional wake boarder.”

Resmini, for example, had been working on more difficult dives so she could get more points at meets. “As freshman, if they can get six, seven, or eight dives; that’s doing well,” Winslow said. “Then you build on it your next year and start working on dives that are bit more difficult.”

Resmini had been working on more difficult dives “because at the state level you need that degree of difficulty to get the extra points,” he said.

With his younger team, Winslow sees a bright future for the Lions. He just hopes more girls will dive. “It does look good for the future,” he said. “The boys look strong, but I need to recruit a few more girls. It will come with time I think.”

VillageSoup Sports Reporter Frederick Freudenberger can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at fritz@villagesoup.com.