Rajani dives past the fear of injury


Freshman diver Simran Rajani dives headfirst into the water in the NCAA regional diving championship in Trinity, Texas, March 3. Photo courtesy of Brianne Davis

Simran Rajani has never enjoyed diving.

Despite finishing her first full diving season with impressive performances – finishing 10th in the three-meter championship in NCAA regionals – Rajani struggles to dive without thinking about what might go wrong.

“Usually, divers don’t enjoy it, but they know they can’t leave it behind,” said Rajani, a freshman. “I don’t enjoy learning new dives because there is always that risk of getting injured.”

Rajani spent most of her life in the pool but only began diving in 2011. Born and raised in Mumbai, India, Rajani has swam for most of her life, she said. Her older brother, a nationally ranked breaststroke swimmer in India, inspired her to swim competitively.

Rajani said her parents have encouraged her to continue diving and there’s “something” about the sport that’s stopped her from giving up on it.

Rajani’s father sent her and her brother to Australia for six months to train for swimming in 2011, which is when she switched to diving.

“When I would watch the divers in Australia, they really caught my eye,” she said.

The transition from diving in India to the U.S has been a massive shift, Rajani said. The equipment in India is not nearly as good as the U.S., and is the diving schedule isn’t as regular, she said.

“I am happy that there are competitions every week in the U.S., whereas in India the competitions were monthly,” Rajani said. “I enjoy having a routine and a set schedule.”

Rajani’s criteria for a college was nuanced: the school needed a diving team, to be on either the East or West Coast, have great weather, and be a private university.

“Chapman hit all of my points,” said Rajani, who heard about Chapman through her counselor in India.

Going to her first NCAA tournament gave Rajani perspective on her abilities.

“We could really see where we stood compared to all of the other athletes,” Rajani said.

Rajani, freshman Simon Duyungan and senior Kellyn Toole all competed in the NCAA regionals, with Toole placing highest at fifth place in the three-meter event and Rajani finishing 10th.

Because her family has a background in media and production, Rajani, a business administration major, wants to pursue something in the media and business industries. She wants to go back to India once college is over.

“The people in India are much more reserved,” Rajani said. “I would not be allowed to roam around late at night. My curfew is 9 p.m. in India.”

Freshman teammate Simon Duyungan – the only male diver to qualify for NCAA regionals – said Rajani is known for her humor.

“She is super funny,” Duyungan said. “At the beginning, no one really talked to each other because there were a lot of freshmen and everyone was shy.”
Despite placing in the top three for the three-meter SCIAC diving championship for the last two seasons, junior teammate Kellyn Toole said she was intimidated by Rajani at first.

“Simran is a fierce competitor,” Toole said. “But now she is one of my closest friends.”