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October 9, 2013

Broken nose can't scare off Andover's Keffer

Broken nose doesn't scare off Andover diver

Zoe Keffer’s friends and family thought she was crazy.

Andover diving coach Becky Pierce thought Zoe was out of her mind.

Longtime Golden Warriors coach Marilyn Fitzgerald was panicked.

How, just three weeks after shattering her nose in the middle of a dive and a day before she was scheduled to undergo surgery for the injury, could Keffer possibly be back on the board wanting to jump?

“We were having heart attacks,” said Fitzgerald.

But Keffer’s diving career has never been conventional, and the danger of the sport is part of the excitement.

“Diving is very, very scary,” said Keffer. “When you are out on the board, you realize how little control you have over your body. It’s very scary, but it is also very exciting. I love it.”

Everyone involved in Andover swimming was stunned when, in the middle of her junior season, Keffer decided — with no background — to become a diver after 2 1/2 years as a successful high school swimmer.

“It almost never happens,” said Pierce. “It’s very unusual to take it up that late.”

But less than a year after attempting her first dive, Keffer has fallen head-over-heals in love with her event and has emerged as a top diver on the powerhouse Andover swimming and diving team.

“I absolutely loved it from my first dive,” said Keffer. “And I feel like I am a naturally stronger and more confident person since I started to dive.”

Since childhood, Keffer had been a competitive swimmer. She then became a promising member of the Golden Warriors, placing fifth in the 500 freestyle (5:29.19) at the Division 1 state meet as a sophomore.

So it stunned everyone when, midway through last season, she declared that she wanted to take up diving.

“During high school practice one day, I decided I wanted to try diving,” said Keffer, who also had no background in gymnastics. “I always thought it looked like fun and so I went up on the board and tried it and thought it was great. Everyone thought I was really crazy.”

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