Olympic coach searching Indiana for future champions

Diver trains out of the water at Arcadia academy (WISH Photo/Drew Blair)

ARCADIA, Ind. (WISH) – A drive onto South Olive in Arcadia might not inspire surprise beyond a typical rural Indiana street until one looks closely.

A few feet from its 1896 cornerstone, an old church marquee reads “Welcome to Ripfest Diving World Headquarters.”

Sprawling behind the 121-year-old building is a nondescript pole barn that could be housing history yet to be made.

The barn and church are home to John Wingfield’s Ripfest Diving academy.

Wingfield is a former head coach for the USA Olympic diving team and recently helped produce star talent including David Boudia and Steele Johnson out of central Indiana.

“We like to say that we do lessons to Olympians,” Wingfield said of his program. “If somebody comes in and they just want to dive a couple days a week and kind of recreational, we have a place for them. If somebody wants to come and train for the Olympic Games, we have a place for them.”

Wingfield opened an 8,100 square foot dryland training facility in Arcadia where athletes can strengthen their diving skills out of the water. The church on the same property provides housing for some who choose to live where they train full-time.

Ripfest’s team of coaches also runs the program in several central Indiana high schools.

Dreams of the Olympics have Wingfield visiting the state’s elementary physical education classes and even malls seeking potential divers.

“I was hired by United States Diving in 1997 with a goal of producing athletes in 2008. I’ve done that system before and our job is to go out and find young talent,” Wingfield said. “We are doing heavy talent identification throughout the communities in central Indiana.”

Los Angeles will host the 2028 Summer Olympic Games.

Wingfield uses simple tests to assess athleticism and agility in young people and does not require previous diving experience.

Children between the ages of five and 15 are invited to participate in a free testing session through USA Diving’s Future Champions every Saturday from 9am to 11am at 108 South Olive Street in Arcadia.