Goals keep SK diver on solid ground

The transition to a new school can be difficult for anyone.

But the move for South Kitsap diver Michael Haire was no ordinary transition. After spending most of his life in Port Orchard, a Navy transfer sent Haire and his parents to Guam last summer.

“When I got there, my credits weren’t matching up with the school,” he said. “So when I turned 18, I moved back here.”

Haire returned to Port Orchard on Nov. 15 and moved in with friend Ben Clark’s family.

“It didn’t hit me for the first couple of weeks,” said Haire, adding he won’t see his parents again until graduation. “It just felt like I was on a vacation with my friends. But when the holidays hit, it was hard not to have my parents there.”

As Haire reacquaints himself with familiar setting, his transition to South’s swimming and diving team has been seamless. Because of his transfer, Haire was ineligible to compete for the Wolves at the beginning of the season, but now is one of their top divers.

Haire, who also competed for the Wolves last season, credits his success to coaches Tami Lester-Dame and Dennis Anderson.

“I’ve learned several new dives within the last couple of weeks,” he said.

Lester-Dame said Haire and fellow senior Justin Gleason give the Wolves a formidable dive team. She also noted that Haire has made significant improvement this season.

“He’s definitely been upping the degree of difficulty this year,” she said. “For him, I think the big thing is once he gets there (state), he starts to work harder on some of the finer details.”

Unlike many divers, who just focus on that, Haire also has swam on some of the relay teams.

“It’s not that bad because diving’s my first event,” he said. “After that, I can just focus on swimming.”

Which might be the focus of his life.

Haire said the was inspired by “The Guardian” -- a 2006 movie starring Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher -- and plans to pursue a career as a rescue swimmer for the U.S. Coast Guard.

“Originally, I wanted to be an underwater welder, but I found out about the rescue swimming,” he said. “Most of all, I can’t stay out of the water.”

He said his biggest accomplishment might be on dry land, though. Haire said he was academically ineligible to compete as a sophomore, but improved his grades and was eligible last year. He said his “grades aren’t outstanding, but they’re excellent for me.”

After graduation, Haire plans to return to Guam, a small country in Asia surrounded by the Pacific Ocean.

“It’s very beautiful there,” he said. “The weather compared to here is much better.”

It’s another transition he eagerly anticipates.

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