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updated: 11/23/2013 11:37 PM

Liva's ascent continues with fourth-place finish

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  • Prospect junior diver Dana Liva produced her best state-meet finish yet, taking fourth in Saturday's finals at New Trier.

      Prospect junior diver Dana Liva produced her best state-meet finish yet, taking fourth in Saturday's finals at New Trier.
    Aaron Gabriel | Staff Photographer


Eric Liva is an experienced high school coach.

Currently Stevenson's boys gymnastics coach, he's also spent time coaching both diving and gymnastics at Mundelein and Hinsdale South.

He estimates he's been on the pool deck for the diving state finals between 20 and 25 times.

None of that, though, compares to watching the event from the perspective of a parent.

Liva's daughter, Dana, is a junior at Prospect. She was making her third straight state meet appearance on Saturday at New Trier High School.

It turns out coaching other people's children wasn't quite preparation enough.

Dad was in the stands, sweating it out.

"It's unbelievable watching from up there," Eric Liva said, after the conclusion of the event. "For me, it's like a double whammy. I can tell how the dive is going to finish the second she leaves the board. It's rough. I'm so proud of her."

For good reason.

Dana Liva had her best state finish yet, taking fourth place with a score of 407.20.

The three-time Mid-Suburban League champ said the whole experience was a big step up from two years ago, when she placed 12th at the same pool.

"Much better this time," she said. "I felt like I was definitely more comfortable the whole way."

"It's another step in her development," said Prospect coach Antonino Bondi. "She's a more complete, consistent diver."

That Liva was competing at all was an achievement of sorts. A knee injury had been making practice difficult, but doctors said the only remedy was rest.

"She said, 'No way, not now,' " Eric Liva said. "That took guts."

Dana Liva now gets a chance to rest her knee, finally. Then it's back to club diving, with Glenbrook Aquatics and coach Tony Santucci, and ultimately, an attempt at a state championship in her senior year.

It won't be easy, as this year's winner, Sydney Dusel of Naperville Central, is just a sophomore. But the second- and third-place finishers were seniors, meaning Liva will be the second-best returning performer next year.

Prospect swimming coach Alfonso Lopez was happily watching Liva's effort Saturday, and he's counting on the winning example she continues to set.

"She's the most intense, dedicated athlete we have, and it definitely has an effect," he said. "She's setting an example that you can be part of our program and not only make it to state, but also be a real marquee competitor in it. All our girls can learn from that."

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