Athlete of the Week: Olivia Durfee

Kabal Caldwell
Staff Writer

The newly-crowned SAA Diver of the Year, Olivia Durfee, is the athlete of the week. In her last Swimming and Diving meet ever, the senior out of Wells, Maine dove fantastically into first place for the women’s 3-meter diving final with a score of 369.25 and 1-meter diving final with a score of 388.45 at the SAA Swimming and Diving Conference Championship meet.

This is a “happily ever after” ending for Durfee as she suffered five knee surgeries throughout her career, “I did gymnastics, soccer, and many other sports in high school, so I had a lot of leg injuries,” she says. Before arriving at Sewanee, Durfee never swam or dove competitively ,so to win a prestigious award as Diver of the Year is incredibly phenomenal.

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Image of Olivia Durfee diving at the Sewanee Invitational in 2021. Photo courtesy of Lyn Hutchinson.

When she was a freshman, a close friend and teammate persuaded her to come to one of the swimming and diving team practices because Durfee simply couldn’t find any extracurricular activities that she was interested in. From the very first practice she attended, the team and coaches took her in as if she had been on the team all along. Durfee says, “It was a scary start, I wasn’t sure if I could do it, but my coaches were always kind and confident in me to where I started getting used to it. In actuality, I was just happy that I found something that I belonged to.”

In only her second year participating in the sport, Olivia Durfee won All-SAA Diver Honorable Mention and Diver of the Week as a sophomore. Unfortunately, in her junior year, while hoping to capitalize on the momentum from her great previous year, she succumbed again to her knee injuries with a torn ACL that forced her to miss the entirety of the season. Though her parents recommended that she give up sports since risking another knee injury could potentially cause permanent damage, Durfee didn’t want her athletic career to end on a bad note.

We know now that she overachieved, as she adds many SAA Diver of the Week awards and the prestigious SAA Diver of the Year award to her trophy collection. While she is proud of the accolades she earned, her actual goal was to end her senior year of college and last year swimming and diving with joys and happy experiences with her coaches and teammates. “I wanted to have one last year hanging around my close friends and teammates and coaches before I graduate. I will certainly remember and miss this part of my experience at Sewanee for the rest of my life,” Durfee says.