The Parklawn Recreation Association resurrected the Piranhas Dive Team last summer. Though unfortunately COVID cancelled the season we held several dive practice sessions that were highly successful and gave potential divers a chance to work with our wonderful coach, Tom Blakeman. Currently we expect to have a relatively normal season. We are still the newest Northern Virginia Swim League (NVSL) team, filling the last open spot in Division VIII. Our 2021 schedule is the same as last year but the dates adjust due to the new year. Please see the schedule on the NVSL site:

The two new diving boards we installed last season are a big hit.  We are working out our practice schedule for this season and taking applications. No diving experience is necessary but swimmers must be able to swim to the side of the pool after their dive. You are allowed to participate on both the swim and dive teams though separate fees are required.

The cost is the same as for swim team: $125 (one child) / $225 (two children) / $325 (three children) / $425 (four or more children).

Dive Team Registration will open in April 2021.

We’re looking forward to a great summer of Flying Piranhas!

Questions? Email Dave Galway

Please be sure to read the Dive Team Code of Conduct

Parklawn Dive Team Guidelines and Code of Conduct

Verbal Health Screening Upon Arrival and Safety Expectations

As noted above, we will ask each diver whether they have any COVID-like symptoms when they arrive. Parents, please take the time before you rush out of the house in the morning to make sure your diver is feeling okay. Keep your diver home if they feel sick for any reason, including cold-like symptoms NOT described below or associated with COVID-19, like a sinus infection, and allergies that may cause the diver to sneeze, cough or have a running nose. This is not optional.

To keep our community as safe as possible, each family agrees that their children will not attend practice if any of your children or any other member of their household or family (1) IS EXPERIENCING ANY SYMPTOMS OF A FEVER (100.4°F OR HIGHER), COUGH, UNUSUAL FATIGUE, HEADACHE, LOSS OF SMELL OR TASTE, OR ANY OTHER COVID-19 LIKE SYMPTOMS OR (2) HAS HAD ANY CONTACT EXPOSURE TO SOMEONE WHO HAS ANY SYMPTOMS (WHICH INCLUDES FAMILY AND FRIENDS, HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS, ETC.).This includes any diver, family member or household member who (a) has received a positive COVID-19 test or is presumed to have COVID-19 by a healthcare professional; or (b) has experienced a heightened risk of exposure to COVID-19 by attending an event, meeting or gathering where masks were not worn and physical distancing was not practiced and you have learned that someone who was at the same event, meeting or gathering has tested positive/is presumed to have COVID-19. Any such family members and divers must not attend dive practice for at least 14 days after those symptoms have ceased or after they were exposed (whichever is longer).

15-Minute Transition Period. We will have a 15-minute break between practice times to provide some transition time. Divers may enter the pool (water) when their scheduled practice starts. Otherwise, they should wait in their car or outside of the pool area at appropriate physical distance with masks on until a coach or an assigned parent volunteer opens the gate. Divers may enter the pool area approximately 5 minutes before their scheduled practice. We ask all divers to leave promptly within 5 minutes of their practice ending so that we can allow the next group of divers in the pool area. Divers are not permitted to linger on the pool deck or the pool area. These measures are intended to help minimize exposure between groups. Divers should be prepared to arrive and depart in their swimsuits. No showers or use of the bathrooms to change is permitted.

No Parents or Siblings on the Pool Deck and Pool Area. Only coaches, divers and assigned parent volunteers are permitted within the pool area. This includes lower and upper deck areas and the new patio area by the driving well).  The pool gate is closed between practices. Parents waiting for a Piranha Diver must maintain a social distance of 6 feet with masks on outside of the pool area and pool deck. Please remain in the parking lot, in case your diver needs assistance that the coaches cannot provide. All areas of the pool are closed, including the baby pool, basketball courts and playground areas. Because divers are not permitted to linger, parents are expected to promptly pick up their diver when practice ends. Parents, we understand that this restricts your ability to ask a quick question or chat with the coaches. Our coaches are available by phone or text to discuss your diver. Let us get a few practices underway before you do so.

Coaches will not be in the Water.

None of our coaches will be in the water with your diver or providing any hands-on coaching. Coaches will demonstrate certain skills on the pool deck or in water without sharing a diving well. Coaches will not wear masks while on deck coaching. We will not have more than three divers in each of our two diving wells.

Volunteers Needed – If you would like to volunteer to help be a diver/diver screener and supporter during practice please let me know.

Coach’s Corner

Letter from Coach Tom Blakeman

Dear Parklawn and Dowden Families,

            My name is Tom Blakeman (Coach Tom) and I am very excited to begin teaching your children the sport I love and grew up with during my youth.   I would like to share a little about my philosophy and general lesson plan for practices.

Fun is the only way to go when learning anything.  I enjoy making learning fun and exciting.  Sometimes the learning can be scary, as this is a sport of fear at times.  We are spinning, flipping, going upside down and backwards.   But I approach each skill slowly and take time to learn.  Students learn a skill when they are ready physically and mentally.   I assess each student and give him/her the appropriate tools they need.  My goal is that my students feel accomplished and proud of themselves whether it has been a full season of diving or just a week of lessons.

Skills taught depend on the student and their ability and knowledge.  Some students are ready to flip, some are ready to go upside down and backwards.  I really need to assess each student individually and go from where they are at the time.  It is important the student feels safe when learning something new.

I start each class with a general warm up and stretching.   Then we go into basic diving elements.  Arm circles, forward and backward jumps.  We talk about the press and bending of the knees to jump off the board.  We also talk and learn about entries.   How to enter the water headfirst.  We learn about the basic body positions:  tuck, pike, and straight.    We also learn about the hurdle and take off from the diving board.   We will repeat many things each day as that is the sport of diving and move on to new skills when ready.

With experience and practice comes the ability to do lots of different dives.  As each diver progresses, I have them attempt dives they are ready to try.  As stated earlier, divers can be at different levels.  Some are just learning to dive headfirst, while others are ready to flip or do 1 ½ somersaults.  It really depends on the athlete and where they are in their abilities.   But in the end, each diver will feel accomplished and happy

About the Coach

Coach Tom Blakeman comes to Parklawn with over three decades of coaching and teaching experience. An All-American out of W. T. Woodson High School in Fairfax, Tom was Washington Post All-Met in diving and the only senior boy to hold the All-Star championship title for four consecutive years. He went on to be a scholarship diver at Old Dominion University and, more recently, was the gold medalist at the USA Masters Diving Summer National Championships on the 1-meter for his age group. Tom’s coaching career includes decades of diving and gymnastics. Coaching the YMCA Arlington Angels gymnastics team, his gymnasts have won state and national titles including a recent Level 6 team championship and a Level 8 Senior National Champion at YMCA Nationals and one Level 9 gymnast who qualified to USA Gymnastics Eastern Nationals. Tom is also an elementary school teacher, currently teaching physical education after 12 years as a classroom teacher, including many years in kindergarten. He loves working with athletes of all ages and ability levels. He is especially passionate about building programs and is excited to be at Parklawn.