Wednesday, July 24, 2024

‘I’m going to tear up’: diver Audrée Brazeau-Howes has one last Canadian meet before joining Louisville Cardinals

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By Adam Beauchemin

For diver Audrée Brazeau-Howes, a summer full of change is nothing to be worried about.

The months ahead are slated to be full of new experiences for Brazeau-Howes, who will be graduating high school, putting a bow on her junior diving career, getting major corrective eye surgery and moving to another country to be part of NCAA Division 1 competition.

“I love change,” says the 17-year-old, who has a 14-hour road trip coming up in August, when her parents will drop her off in Kentucky.

Brazeau-Howes has earned a scholarship to the University of Louisville, where she’ll be pursuing a major in communications and joining an entirely new pool of competitive divers with the Cardinals.

“It’s cool,” highlights the John McCrae Secondary School senior. “When you compete in the States, you’re competing against first, second, third and fourth years. I’m excited to see what that’s like.”

Competitive diving has been central to Brazeau-Howes’s life since she was under 10 years old.

“I hate days off,” signals the Ottawa National Diving Club athlete. “I hate when I’m not diving because I don’t know what to do.”

A typical week for her involves six days of training, with two days in the weight room and one to two days of double practice.

Audrée Brazeau-Howes. Photo provided

On top of this, Brazeau-Howes is also cramming to finish high school and working to supplement her university scholarship.

“Usually it’s between 20 and 22 hours [of training per week],” notes Brazeau-Howes, who also coaches some of the youngest ONDC divers. “Lately, I’ve been training a lot more — probably 24 hours — but that’s only because I have my prom coming up [this] week and I’ll be missing practice.”

Naturally, the ever-prepared Brazeau-Howes has taken steps to ensure she lands on her feet in the new city. Prior to deciding which university she would attend, she connected online with her potential future teammates.

“All the teammates were so inclusive and were so excited,” she outlines. “We were already friends before I even visited the school.”

Audrée Brazeau-Howes. Photo provided

Before she moves south, Brazeau-Howes will head to Saskatoon from July 4-7 to compete in the 1-metre, 3 m and platform events at Diving Canada’s junior elite nationals. She’s competed in four junior national events over six years (two were missed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic) and she feels well-positioned for her final competition.

“I’m in a good spot,” indicates Brazeau-Howes, whose top result at the 2023 junior nationals was seventh on 3 m. “Honestly, I feel like I’ve had so many meets this season that this isn’t really phasing me.”

This season alone, the Team Ontario athlete attended meets in five different cities across three different provinces and also went to a training camp in Cancun, Mexico.

Last summer, she competed alongside Olympians in her first-ever senior nationals.

“On platform, I came eighth and it was insane,” Brazeau-Howes recounts. “I was after Caeli McKay, who is an Olympian, and other athletes who I’ve watched dive for ages.”

She quite literally expects to enter the next level of competition with greater clarity than ever before. Brazeau-Howes was born with high astigmatism. She wears glasses, but because she is unable to get contacts that match the full strength of her prescription, she dives with blurred vision.

Read More: Diver Audrée Brazeau-Howes overcomes vision & COVID hurdles to qualify for Canada Summer Games

Up to this point, Brazeau-Howes has approached her dives by relying on finely-tuned muscle memory built-up through relentless repetition. But with laser eye surgery scheduled for this summer, all that could change.

“I’m looking forward to that so much,” she underlines. “My diving will hopefully get even better than it is.”

Audrée Brazeau-Howes. File photo

Brazeau-Howes says the emotions of entering a new stage of her diving career and her life haven’t been front of mind, but she expects they will come as she winds down her junior career.

“I think on the last day [of nationals], it’s gonna hit me and I’m going to start tearing up,” she explains. “It is kind of like a slap in the face. It’s like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s happening, I’m leaving this town.’”

Brazeau-Howes expresses immense gratitude to her parents – Carole Brazeau and Trevor Howes, who she says have provided unwavering support and spent countless hours driving her to meets and practices – as well as her coaches and the entire team at the Ottawa National Diving Club.

“I feel like I’ve learned so much from this club outside of diving,” she adds. “I’ve learned a lot of manners in the sport, leadership, sportsmanship — just so much.”

Read More in our 2024 High School Best Series, presented by Louis-Riel Sports-Études, as we tip our caps to top local student-athletes at: OttawaSportsPages.ca/Ottawa-High-School-Best-2024

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