Feb. 7, 2012

OXFORD, Ohio -- It's a big week for Miami University diver Lacey Houser (Danville, IN). While the rest of her freshman classmates will be attending classes and lectures on the Oxford campus, Lacey's week-long classroom will be at a pool in Germany, nearly 5,000 miles away.

Houser is among 13 United States divers--including five divers from the Indianapolis area--who have been invited to the FINA Diving Grand Prix, being held from Feb. 10-12 in Rostock, Germany. Having already qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in June, Houser will compete in the 10-meter platform event.

"It's my first trip overseas, so I'm very excited," said Houser. "USA diving is paying for everything."

Like many divers, Lacey's athletic career began as a gymnast, competing for six years and advancing to a high level by the age of 12. However, the pounding had an adverse effect on her knees.

"Gymnastics is a brutal, full-contact sport," she said. "It takes quite a toll on your body."

Simultaneous to gymnastics, Houser also began to test herself as a diver at age nine.

"I discovered that I loved the water," she said, "so, after a couple of years, I eventually decided to devote myself fulltime to diving."

Houser comes from an athletic family. Her father, Gary, played football in high school, while her mother, Mary, ran track. Understanding the importance of nurturing their daughter's athletic aspirations, they drove Lacey to practice, making an early morning 45-minute commute so that Lacey could train with the U.S. National Diving Team and the Starz Diving Club.

She has three siblings, including an accomplished 12-year-old sister named Ivy who competed alongside her at Miami's open diving meet in December.

Lacey was introduced to Miami University by friend and eight-time Mid-American Conference champion diver Chris Heaton, then eventually recruited to Oxford by Head Diving Coach KR Li.

"KR is an internationally renowned coach," said Houser. "He's worked with several Olympians in past years and I thought it would be great to be coached by him."

Enrolling at Miami in January as a kinesiology and athletic training major, Houser was a May 2011 graduate of Danville High School in central Indiana. However, due to some academic discrepancies with the NCAA Clearing House, she was forced to sit out the fall semester.

Houser made her unofficial RedHawk debut at the Miami Invitational last December, competing in an open meet against an all-star group, including several elite divers from China.

"I enjoyed training with them," she said. "They're so detailed in what they do. I'm a visual learner, so I studied their techniques. But, at the same time, I had to concentrate and focus on my own dives."

The 5-foot-six-inch, 19-year-old unveiled her talents as a full-fledged collegian on Jan. 13 against the University of Cincinnati, finishing second behind teammate Nikki Craft in both the one- and three-meter events. She picked up her first event victory the following week at Ball State, placing first on the one-meter board.

Lacey's ultimate dream is to be an Olympian on the 10-meter platform and that will be her focus this week in Germany.

"I want to continue to improve my scores," she says. "This week in Germany will definitely be a great experience for me."

--www.MURedHawks.com--