"Dash in on fire!" Mona Enos texted me Saturday during the Olympic Trials in Federal City, Washington.
, her son Dashiell Enos was diving in the Olympic trials on Friday and Saturday, in order to qualify for one of two coveted spots on the Olympic team.
Saturday's competition in the 10-Meter Mens Platform Finals brought out a performance by Dash that was triumphant, and, yes, Olympic. He brought his full measure of precision and grace to his dives, stunning both his parents and his coach.
After her initial text saying her son was on fire, Mona excitedly wrote: "He just moved up three spots! Mom and Dad couldn't be prouder.”
Later she forwarded me a text that she received from John Wingfield, Dash’s coach.
“How about that 207c!!” texted Wingfield. “His whole list was great! That had to be a personal best. If the score wasn't the best, the performance, from where I sit, was his personal best.
“I am proud of him,” Wingfield continued, “especially as he was the work horse of the team with four events!!"
That 207c dive Wingfield was excited about, Mona explained, is a “back three and a half somersaults, tuck. It's been his nemesis this past week.”
Despite this achievement, with only two openings on the team for individual divers, those spots went to David Boudia and Nick McCroary.
Both men have more experience at such meets, simply due to their ages: McCroary, from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is 20, while Broudia, from Noblesville, Indiana, is 23.
It's the same edge Dash will bring himself when he returns at the age of 20 to the 2016 trials.
Burbank-born Dashiell Enos, named for the author Dashiell Hammett, was raised in and around Studio City and North Hollywood, and attended school in Sherman Oaks.
Patch spoke to him over the phone prior to the meet. In an effort to relax, he said, he'd just gone to the movies to see
When asked if it was possible for him to enjoy a movie while in the very midst of Olympic trials, he laughed and softly said yes.
Indeed, as he explained, mental toughness – the ability to remain calm, free from anxiety – is as important as physical prowess.
In conversation, he’s a boy of few words, preferring to let others sing his praises. But in his personal blog, which readers can follow at GoDash.weebly.com, he wrote this about yesterday’s meet:
“I started swimming at age five and learned early on to strive for a personal best in competitions. I was not always successful, but yesterday was when I had the best performance ever, at the biggest event of my life, the 10 Meter Mens Platform Finals.
“The scoring system of the Trials,” he continued, “was cumulative (adding prelims and semi scores into finals) so the official record will not reflect the results. But by adding up the dive scores I earned 415.05 points, a new personal best.
“Thank you for joining my journey,” he wrote, letting us in on the immediate positivity of his outlook. “I have reached a milestone, but the road continues. To Rio!”
He said that when he returns in 2016, he’ll have the advantage of experience he didn’t have this time around.
“Older people who are trying right now to get on the team,” he said, “most of them have more experience than I do. So they might be used to it from the last time they were here. And probably know how to control their nerves more.”
“Our coach put our teams through mental toughness programs, and there were a bunch of audio-tapes and exercises to help us become mentally tough. Because that’s probably the biggest thing, when you come to a big meet like this, is being mentally tough.”
Asked to describe the kind of mental state necessary to compete on this level, he said, “You have to know that you’ve trained really hard for this, and you know that you’re prepared, and you think that this is just another meet. You just do what you do, do what you can. “
Before competing in the 10-meter men’s finals, on Friday he competed in the 10-meter Synchronized dive (“the Synchro”), in which two divers work as a team, mirroring each movement in perfect synchronization.
Dash had two different partners for this event, and placed third with one and fifth with the other.
It’s a dive contingent on both divers working as one. Asked to explain how they achieve that, Dash said, “You want to find someone with a similar body type, usually. And you train together a lot, and usually have the same coach so you get coached the same technique, and do your movements the same way.”
He started swimming before he can ever remember. What we does remember is that swimming was always something he loved. Though it’s become a serious endeavor, swimming remains fun.
“It’s always been fun,” he said. “And it’s still fun. The meets are serious, but it’s fun to do them. I dive best when I have fun and I enjoy it. And I think that’s true for most people.”
As previously reported in Patch, Dash showed astounding prowess when he was very young. His father Larry, a volunteer swim coach at SFDS, gave Dash his first swimming lessons at the age of six, and Dash never stopped swimming. Naturally gifted, he was also unusually dedicated very early on, and became both a fine swimmer and diver, which are two separate talents.
In order for Dash to train full-time prior to these Olympic trials, he moved with his mother and his younger brother Beckett to Indianapolis in 2008, where he’s been training ever since at the National Training Center.
His father stayed here in the Southland to manage the family business and provide financial support for Dash’s training, which the Enos family is required to pay for in full.
As Mona explained to Patch, “Other countries around the world, they pay for their athletes’ training, but we have to pay for it all.
"And you have to train this much. So it’s tough. It’s really expensive.”
Asked what her feelings were following the meet, Mona said, "It does seem to have been the right move, and I have no regrets. Training with Coach John Wingfield has been an incredible opportunity for Dash.
"Education," she continued, "was the biggest challenge at first because Indiana did not have public virtual schools in 2009 when we moved there. Since we travel to competitions throughout the year, Beckett needed an online school as well. I joined a group of active parents in support of charter school expansion and spoke before the Senate and House at the Capitol. We were successful in getting the virtual school bill passed in 2011. Now the boys have flexible school choices.
"As for the next four years, time will tell," she said. "Families on the Olympic track need to be prepared for changes following the London games."
Following these trials, Dash, Mona and Beckett will return to Indiana, where they will continue to live as Dash trains for Rio.
Though he knows he is in the right place for his career, Dash admitted to missing his California life, and spending time with his girlfriend, who lives here in Valley Village.
“I don’t get to see her very often,” he said. “That is hard. But she knows me and knows how important this is to me.”
Asked if it was difficult at all for him to avoid the typical teenage temptations while training, he said, “No, it’s not difficult, really. I never have done any of that, smoking or drinking. I love what I am doing. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here right now. But I do love it. This is the most exciting time of my life!”
Most exciting so far, that is. No doubt there are a lot of exciting times to come in the life and times of Dash Enos.
You can follow Enos' progress on his blog GoDash.weebly.com.