With Wicked Twister coaster cars roaring up a towering corkscrew nearby, Stephanie Turner performs precision dives for thrill-seeking Cedar Point crowds.
Ms. Turner, a Toledo native, is one of ten divers in the 25-minute Cedar Point show. This is her third summer diving in the park's Aquatic Stadium.
“I'm getting paid to do something I absolutely love,” Ms. Turner, 22, said. “It's probably the best thing that ever happened to me.”
Ms. Turner said this summer is probably the end of her eight-year diving career. She competed on the diving team at Notre Dame Academy and went on to become a star on at John Carroll University in Cleveland, winning the 3-meter Division III national championship her sophomore year.
“She is the only female athlete in the history of the school to win a national title,” Lewis Fellinger, head dive coach at John Carroll. “She had a tremendous awareness of who she was and what she wanted to accomplish.”
The Cedar Point show kept her fit over the summer, she said, and diving on musical cues trained her be a tough competitor.
“I think the job helped me a lot in competition. I just had to get up on the board and go,” she said.
Ms. Turner and the other Cedar Point divers perform six days a week. The show goes on four times Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and five times Fridays and Saturdays. In their off hours, the divers are free to wander the park.
This year, much of the show is a comedy routine featuring wacky dives. The opening minutes of the show, which showcase the divers' skills, have a more serious tone.
“The beginning is my favorite part of the show,” Ms. Turner said. “I think it captures the audience.”
Her parents, Martin and Ellen, have traveled from their West Toledo home to see the show each summer for the past three years.
“The show is very entertaining, and when you walk the park all day, it's nice to be able to relax,” Mr. Turner said. “It's a different look into what diving is all about.”
After the park closes for the season, Ms. Turner said she plans to get a job in Cleveland.
She majored in sociology and gerontology at John Carroll and hopes to eventually work in nursing homes.
“I'd love to be in a nursing home organizing activities,” she said. “I love the contacts and friendships you can make with the elderly.”
Ms. Turner's ambitions extend beyond the end of the diving board, but diving may remain a part of her life.
Depending on her work schedule, Mr. Fellinger said, she may help him coach young divers. He said she was very supportive of her teammates at John Carroll.
“She's one of the most giving people I've ever worked with,” he said.