Imagine falling 30 feet and landing on your face.
As a sophomore, Jon Donadee attempted a front 3.5 pike dive off of the 10-meter platform at a meet in Austin. The dive went wrong. Donadee was knocked unconscious and, after being pulled out of the water by a teammate, was sent to the hospital. It took him almost a year to resume training on the 10-meter.
As an upperclassman, he was doing back dives off the 7.5-meter platform in practice when a dive, again, did not go as expected. But instead of causing an injury, it became a humorous memory.
“He does back twisters pretty consistently, but he came out, got lost in his twist and came out doing cartwheels,” sophomore diver Kyle Schroeder said. “He did a double cartwheel straight to his feet, which is like the most unbelievable thing ever. Just landing on your feet is a miracle, especially if you get lost.
“It was so funny because he’s always able to find himself and make the dive somewhat better than what it could have been. He does that all the time.”
After his early setback, Donadee, now a senior, has landed on his feet and come out on top during the strongest season of his career. In his last campaign as a Wolverine, he hopes to make an impact at the zone and Big Ten championships.
Against Indiana two weekends ago, Donadee qualified for the NCAA zones in the one-meter (316.05) and three-meter (310.05). He was the highest-scoring Michigan diver in the one-meter against the Hoosiers, finishing third overall.
He was also the top Wolverine in the one-meter against Arizona State and California (fourth place overall) the one-meter against Florida (third place overall) and both the one- and three-meter against Michigan State and Princeton (third and second place overall, respectively).
Donadee, one of two seniors on the team, has used this season to continue improving his dives. He said his progress on the platform since his sophomore year has been his greatest accomplishment.
“The dives that Jon is doing off the 10-meter platform are difficult and they take strict attention to detail,” Michigan diving coach Chris Bergere said. “He has to stay focused on his training. Otherwise, it could be a disaster up there, and he knows that.
“He’s really made a lot of improvement his senior year. A lot of the seniors, on their way out, it’s hard for them to make any changes. Jon has always progressed and kept getting better.”
Before the end of his collegiate career, Donadee hopes to score higher in the three-meter dive and make the finals at the zone or conference championship meets in the event. At next month’s Big Ten championships, he said that he would like to score points in the platform and both springboard events, his goal since his freshman year.
“I’ve never scored points for the team at the Big Ten meet, and it’s the one most disappointing thing about my career,” Donadee said. “That’s my motivation behind this year.”
Bergere said Donadee now has the ability to score in all three events.
“It is very likely, but he has to dive well,” Bergere said. “The competition is pretty tough, but he’s diving better than he ever has. If he shows up that day, he’ll score. I guarantee it.”