Rousseau makes history for Viera swim team


Sarah Rousseau has been diving for seven years. The sophomore became just the second member — and first female — from the Viera High swimming team to win a state championship. Photo by Carl Kotala

From the moment she gave it a try seven years ago, Sarah Rousseau loved diving.

She liked the challenge of trying to perfect each dive. And she really liked the competition.

Her coach at the time, Bill Talbot of Sunrise Springboard Diving in Satellite Beach, saw something, too. He saw the way she could point her toes and keep her legs straight. He saw her focus.

“I knew right away, back then at 7, 8 years old, she was going to be a state champ someday,” Talbot said. “I knew it immediately.”

Talk about being prophetic.

Rousseau became the first female, and just the second person, in the history of the Viera High swimming program to win a state crown when the 15-year-old sophomore beat the field at the 2015 FHSAA state finals.

Prior to that, Rousseau finished 10th in the 14-15 girls 1-meter competition at the 2015 USA Diving ATT National Diving Championships.

And to think, she almost went into a different sport.

“I wanted to be a gymnast, but my mom was scared I would get injured easily,” Rousseau said. “She saw a diving article in the newspaper and put me in it.”

Talbot thought so much of a young Rousseau, he made her the youngest diver he has ever taken to a national meet. Rousseau, who was 7 at the time, competed in the 9 and under division and did very well.

As her skills began to grow and she started going to Sebastian to work on 3-meter diving, Talbot knew something else. With no 3-meter diving boards in Brevard County, Rousseau was going to have to leave him.

For the past two years, Rousseau has worked with coach Yaidel Gamboa of the YCF Diving Team in Orlando. Her coach at Viera High is Randy Just.

Even when she’s not diving, Rousseau likes to stay active. She’s been dancing for five years and just this past month, she appeared at the King Center, playing four different roles in the “Nutcracker,” which was put on by Space Coast Ballet.

She is also dual-enrolled, taking virtual high school classes while also taking courses at Eastern Florida State College.

Diving practice is four hours a day, five days a week. During the summer, she trains twice a day for five days a week.

That’s quite a schedule, isn’t it?

“It’s hard sometimes, but it just feels normal to me since I’ve been doing it for so long,” Rousseau said.

As a freshman, she opened some eyes by finishing fifth in the state for the Hawks. In joining diver Luke Zippi (2009) as the only Hawks to win a state championship, Rousseau showed she had matured not just physically, but mentally as well.

“I’ve just improved some and then knowing how to focus on each dive instead of the whole competition,” she said. “I didn’t know how to do that last year and this year I did.”

So how far can she go? Rousseau said she would like to get a scholarship to go to college. But Talbot can see her having a shot to make the 2020 U.S. Olympic team.

“With the dives she’s doing now, if she continues on the pace she’s at, she’s got a good possibility of making it up the ladder and getting to an Olympic Trial at least,” he said.

Right now, Rousseau is preparing for another round of competitions that can help her qualify for the nationals.

Her self-confidence after winning the state title has grown.

“I was happy that I won and I was happy because I made my coach(es) proud,” Rousseau said.