By Jeff Shearer
AUBURN, Ala. - Miranda Telmanik used to land on her feet. Now she lands on her head. That's what happens when you exchange your gymnast's leotard for a diver's swimsuit.
Telmanik, a senior, is competing in this week's NCAA Zone B Championships at Auburn's James E. Martin Aquatics Center, an impressive achievement for someone who's only diving experience before college was cannonballs at rec pools.
"I did gymnastics for 15 years of my life," said Telmanik, who competed on Auburn's gymnastics team as a freshman.
All of those years in the gym took a physical toll, prompting Telmanik to spend a lot of time in the training room. It was there where she ran into Auburn diving coach Jeff Shaffer.
"One day I was in the training room and she was doing a handstand," Shaffer said. "I said, just jokingly, `If you ever have to leave gymnastics, come see me. We'll see if we can turn you into a diver."
"And now here I am," Telmanik said.
"It's been two-and-a-half years now and she's done everything I've asked of her, which is a testament to her, and her wanting to continue in athletics at a division one program," Shaffer said. "Her training in gymnastics gave her a little bit of a heads up to what we want in an athlete, in diving."
Telmanik's gymnastics background helped her quickly adjust to the challenges of her new sport.
"Coming in, I already knew how to twist," she said.
"She is a quick study," Shaffer said. "There are a lot of athletes who have transferred from gymnastics or tumbling into diving and been very successful. It's a little less demanding physically than the pounding they get in the gym. Still hurts if you land in the water incorrectly, but you're able to get back up and brush yourself off and try the skill again."
Telmanik's favorite is the 10-meter platform.
"I've never really had a problem with heights," she said. "With gymnastics I always loved the thrill of learning new things. To move a flip up so high was the greatest thrill of all. It just kind of came naturally."
Telmanik surprised herself with her success.
"I never thought I'd be, one, on the team here, or two, competing in zones," she said. "It's a big shock. I'm really proud of how far I came."
An athletic career that began in the gym 17 years ago will end this week in her home pool.
"It's great to have our teammates being able to come and cheer us on," Telmanik said. "Just having the home crowd here knowing that they're all for Auburn, and they're here for you, if you mess up or if you do great, they're going to cheer for you. And just have your back 100 percent."
-- Jeff Shearer (@jeff_shearer) March 6, 2017
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer