MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This is not a sport for the faint of heart. It’s 30 feet, straight down – at more than 30 miles an hour. Really high up, and really scary.

The Rio Olympics begin in 60 days, and Eagan High School and University of Minnesota grad Sarah McCrady is trying to get there in the sport of Diving. The US Olympic Trials begin June 17 in Indianapolis, and McCrady is making her final preparations in hopes of earning a spot.

But the more pressing question at the moment is: How can a human not be afraid to jump from that high?

“Honestly, I do still get scared jumping from it,” McCrady said. “When I walk to the end, I’m like, calm down, you’ve done it so many times. But it is scary looking down and seeing how high it is you’re going to jump off of.”

It doesn’t get any less scary when you reach the water. Jumping from the 10-meter platform, as McCrady does in competition, inflicts physical pain every time.

“It hurts your wrists, because you enter the water with your hands grabbed like this (in front of you) and locked out,” McCrady said. “So it hurts your wrists a little bit, it hurts your shoulders and elbows a little bit.”

You have to be pretty mentally tough to be able to say, “This is going to hurt, but I’m going to do it anyway.”

“It’s like a 90 percent mental sport,” McCrady said. “It’s a 10 percent physical sport.”

That’s what separates divers of McCrady’s caliber from all the rest. To succeed at this sport, you have to train your brain even more than your body.

“It’s all the mental training,” McCrady said, “With a sports psychologist all the time. Train the mental side of it…. Because my body can do the dives. I know my body can do the dives. It’s just, can my brain get my body to do those dives?”

If she can, in a couple weeks at the Olympic Trials, she’ll earn a spot in the Olympics in a couple months.

“There’s 27 girls in my event,” McCrady said. “And the top two make it to Rio.”

You’d think that’s a lot of pressure. But what’s pressure to a person used to doing what she does?

“I’m just trying to think about doing my best, doing everything I know, doing it the way I know how to do,” McCrady said. “And if I do all those things, then I know Rio will be in the future.”

David McCoy

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