When current Univ. of Miami diver Tanner Wilfong was choosing which college to attend, he sexual orientation came into play. In high school the multi-year Pennsylvania state title contender began to realize he was gay, and at the time most of his friends were girls.
Erik Hall wrote for the Roanoke Times:
Miami's tradition, coaching, and location made it ideal, and it offered an uncommon benefit, too. Miami has no men's swimming team, just men's diving along with women's swimming and diving. Wilfong felt that no men's swim team would make it a better experience whenever he was ready to tell people that he's gay.
"I remember thinking about, ‘If I went here, it'd be so easy to be myself. My best friends are girls. I could make so many girlfriends,'" Wilfong says. "This was the icing on the cake."
Since then Wilfong has found his way out of the closet. He even has a boyfriend, fellow diver Jamie Bissett, who dove at Purdue and is now gunning for a spot on the Canadian Olympic team. Bissett is the reigning national 3-meter champion and recently led the way for Canadian divers at a Grand Prix event in October.
Meeting Wilfong pushed Bissett out of the closet as well.
Bissett told friends and family he's gay a few months after he started dating Wilfong. Bissett is also now the two-time reigning Canadian national champion on 3-meter springboard. He's completed his NCAA eligibility and is training to represent Canada at the 2016 Olympics.
"He was ‘out' when we met, and obviously, that was scary for me," Bissett says. "I'm thankful to have met him. I've learned a lot about myself through having met him and definitely credit that whole experience to where I am now."
Head over to the Roanoke Times for Hall's full-length feature story on the divers.