Nailing dives and making friends at Lake Washington

Junior Richter thrives in the air and on the ground.

Lake Washington’s high flyer aspires to join the Cirque du Soleil someday.

For Kang junior Aidan Richter, he’s immersed in the physically demanding sports of diving and competitive cheerleading that have him showcasing flips and twists and plenty of tumbling.

Richter enjoys flipping and challenging himself with an array of dives that he’d like to display at the 3A state championships again next month at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way. Last year, he finished 11th at the event and he notched 13th as a freshman.

There are some 11-dive qualifying meets on the way and Richter is looking forward to throwing his dives to the judges and crowd. His toughest dive is a back one-and-a-half flips with two-and-a-half twists.

“Really chaotic,” he said with a laugh about the dive. “You’re just like everywhere, you’re spinning around. It’s hard to keep track of where you are, but I’ve just done it and similar flips so many times that I’m kind of used to it.”

When Richter is locked in to his “air sense,” the diver is on his way to completing the complex dive. A feeling of accomplishment washes over him when he nails the dive, learns a new one and performs well overall in competitions. There’s pressure to overcome, and Richter digs down deep, recalls what he achieved in practice and visualizes a stellar dive.

Richter is one of the swim and dive team’s captains and he’s been hyping up and encouraging the Kangs, who were 5-0 at press time.

“Being captain was such a great opportunity and so I really embraced it and I’m trying to make the swim team to be the same community it was my freshman year and last year,” he said. “It really helped me make friends in high school, get integrated, and it’s such an inclusive sport.”

Richter points to the Lake Washington record board at the Juanita Pool and notes that junior CJ Clark’s name is listed on there after finishing seventh at state last season. Clark didn’t return to the team this time out and Richter misses diving alongside his friend, who has instead decided to pursue rock climbing.

Diving is tops on Richter’s agenda for now, but who knows what new challenge awaits him around the corner.

The Reporter asked Richter a series of questions to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into his life:

What’s your favorite restaurant in the Kirkland area?

For years my family has been going to Teriyaki Madness, it’s a small locally owned restaurant. It’s really convenient ‘cause we live right up the street, and it’s the best teriyaki I’ve ever experienced.

What are some of your favorite hobbies to do outside of diving?

I’m really big into flips, so I do cheer. In the summertime, any time I can, I’m outside on my trampoline. I really love that adrenaline I get from being upside down, I also love the attention I get. I play guitar, skiing, that’s how I hurt my shoulder last year (he doesn’t do flips on his skis anymore).

What’s your favorite movie of all time?

I really like “Schindler’s List.” I feel like war movies are so powerful because people are so focused on numbers nowadays, like millions of casualties and stuff, but, you know, people don’t often think about how each one of those people was just like you.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

People that drive the speed limit. Other than that, chewing gum with your mouth open.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

That’s a tough one ‘cause I’ve been given a lot of great advice. I’ve had a lot of really important people in my life. Definitely lately, I feel like taking it slow is always really important. I’m learning so much nowadays with all these things to handle. I’ve become so responsible, just in the past year, being 16 and driving and everything. I just have to remember that even when times are hard, I can struggle through it. This is just one year out of my hopefully long life.

What’s your favorite kind of music?

OK, this is a topic I love. I like rock and metal. My favorite band is Dream Theater. I listen to a lot of guitar music. I love Alice in Chains, Dream Theater… (Led) Zeppelin has always been one of my favorites. I’ve been into Porcupine Tree lately, they do a little bit of progressive metal and rock.

What super power would you like to have?

Passing my math class (laughs), just kidding. Invisibility always sounds fun, not in a creepy way.

If you could go to dinner with one person (or two), who would that be?

I would love to talk to Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin guitarist). Aaron Micheal (famous tumbler), he landed the world’s first standing double backflip.

Aidan Richter soars through the air in a recent meet at the Juanita Pool. Andy Nystrom/ staff photos

Aidan Richter soars through the air in a recent meet at the Juanita Pool. Andy Nystrom/ staff photos