While watching television coverage of the 1996 Olympic Summer Games, Deidre fell in love with gymnastics and promised her parents she’d one day vie for Gold on the world’s biggest athletic stage. Envisioning flying through the air, twisting and turning, Deidre passionately pursued gymnastics as a young person.
A 2002 encounter with Karen Robbins, the high swimming and diving coach, would change Deidre’s course forever. Karen had noticed her tremendous body control while tumbling at a dance recital and suggested she try diving. A few plunges from the 1-meter diving board later, it was clear – Deidre was a natural.
Despite her relatively late introduction to diving – at age 14 – her high school career as a Grinnell Tiger was an impressive one. It included three trips to the state diving competition (2003, 2004, 2005), finishing as a state runner-up her senior year. Ironically, she was bested only by her future University of Iowa diving partner, Veronica Rydze. Rydze was most definitely from diving stock; her father Bob was then the University of Iowa Diving Coach and is still Chairman of the Board at USA Diving – the sanctioning body for National competitive and Olympic diving in the US.
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Bob Rydze recruited Deidre to the University of Iowa, where she received an athletic scholarship to compete as a Hawkeye diver. As Deidre’s college career progressed, it became clear – she had the talent, and the drive to compete for a spot on an elite diving team.
Her junior year, 2009, was Deidre’s break out year – and the year she discovered her talents as a synchronized diver. Playing around in the pool before practice, Deidre and her former high school competitor Veronica Rydze we’re trying their hand at synchronized diving. Their coach, Veronica’s father, noticed a clear chemistry and asked them to try it again. Two months later, Veronica and Deidre claimed first place in 3-meter synchro at the US Senior Zones competition, earning them both spots in the synchronized 3-meter event at US National Championships. That year, Deidre also posted a 10th place finish in the final at the US Senior National competition.
The momentum continued into the 2010-2011 collegiate season. During the Big Ten Championship, Deidre and Veronica claimed a Gold medal in the 3-meter synchro event. In individual competition, Deidre shattered two University of Iowa Diving records – a 3rd place score of 338.55 on the 1-meter board and a score of 407.40 on the 3-meter board, 2nd only to a two-time Olympian. Both records remain today.
Born August 26, 1988 to Will and Evelyn Freeman, the Olympic spirit is engrained in Deidre. Her mother was a 3-time Canadian Olympic trials finalist high-jumper. Her father competed in the U.S. Olympic trials in 1976 and he believed his best, and last, shot would be the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow. Will’s hopes were dashed when the U.S. decided to boycott the games to protest Russia’s aggression in Afghanistan. This leaves Deidre to carry the Freeman family’s Olympic torch.
A native of Grinnell, Iowa, Deidre’s passion for sports, art, and academics runs deep. Her parents moved to Grinnell in 1980 after being hired to coach track and field and cross country for Grinnell College. As one of the country’s more prestigious academic powerhouses, Grinnell College has always demonstrated the rigor, diversity, and high standards in academics for Deidre. She nearly attended Grinnell, if it weren’t for her father, who persuaded her into visiting the University of Iowa’s campus. She has always valued her academic career in high school (honor roll and inducted into the National Honor Society), as well as at the University of Iowa (named to the Academic All-Big Ten Team and Dean’s List).
Deidre was always an active child, climbing bookshelves, balancing along a kitchen banister, and dancing around the house. She was enrolled in dance at age five and gymnastics at age six. Gymnastics provided incredible body awareness and dance provided control, coordination, and musicality. At ten years old, Deidre began band class at her middle school, playing the clarinet. She also taught herself how to play the piano by age 11, finally talking her parents into finding a piano teacher. While only taking a year of piano because of her incredibly busy schedule, she continued her musical career playing the clarinet throughout high school in both marching and concert band. By 8th grade, she developed interest in the bass clarinet and in high school, the contrabass clarinet. While playing the contrabass clarinet, Deidre was selected to the Conference Honor Band three consecutive years. In addition to band, she participated in choir throughout middle and high school as well.
Deidre completed her college career at Iowa notching 10th place on 3-meter and 15th place on 1-meter at the NCAA Championships, and was named a two-time NCAA All-American her senior year – making her one of the most celebrated divers in University of Iowa history. In addition to her stellar performance in the pool, her efforts in the classroom were rewarded by her status as a four-year Academic All-Big Ten student-athlete.
Deidre’s professional diving career boasts Gold medals at the 2013 AT&T National Diving Championships and World Championship Trials in 3-meter and runner-up in 1-meter for both events. Deidre holds titles as national champion of 3-meter synchronized diving at the 2013 AT&T Summer National Diving Championships and USA Diving Winter National Championships.
Deidre has been acknowledged by USA Diving as a top-14 diver in the US, and is a two-time member of the prestigious USA Olympic Performance Squad with a designation as a synchronized diving specialist.
While Deidre will continue competing in multiple National and International events, the biggest event on her radar takes place in June of 2016 – the U.S. Olympic Trials, being held in Indianapolis, IN – where she’ll seek to book her ticket to Rio de Janiero, Brazil, site of the 2016 Olympic Summer Games.
Her musicality was also portrayed through dancing, participating in liturgical dance and studio dance. She took classes in tap, ballet, jazz, pointe, clogging, modern, and contemporary. Deidre was on the competition dance team at Michelle’s Dance Academy and the Grinnell High School dance team, traveling around Iowa to compete and perform.
The extensive background in the arts gave Deidre an incredibly well rounded foundation for academics and athletics. Deidre currently lives and trains in Iowa City. Her coach, Todd Waikel, is also the University of Iowa Diving Coach. This makes Deidre the only Olympic hopeful from Iowa still living and training in the state.
Deidre has consistently held leadership and mentoring positions throughout her life. While in high school, she was a captain on the swimming and diving team and the cheerleading squad, a liturgical dance instructor, as well as a tumbling instructor at her dance studio, Michelle’s Dance Academy. She has experience in explaining various exercises, activities, and mentalities in different ways, so that each individual child could best learn. Continuing her mentoring responsibilities, Deidre became the Grinnell High School diving coach, Grinnell College diving coach, Grinnell High School assistant softball coach, Grinnell College assistant softball coach, and dance instructor at Michelle’s Dance Academy after finishing her degree at the University of Iowa. Every person learns in very individualized ways and Deidre has become seasoned in teaching and explaining according to the various manners of learning, as well as the beginner or advanced levels.
Birthdate: August 26, 1988
Birthplace: Grinnell, Iowa Hometown: Grinnell, Iowa
Current Residence: Iowa City, Iowa
High School: Grinnell Community Schools, Iowa
College: University of Iowa
Coach: Todd Waikel
Volunteer Assistant Coach for University of Iowa diving team
Deidre and her sister, Nicolette, have never had a fight
Collegiate Career at the University of Iowa
- Recorded 31 first place finishes between 2006 and 2011
- Made finals at Big Ten Championships three times
- 2011 Big Tens place 1st in exhibition 3-meter synchro, 2nd on 3-meter, and 3rd on 1-meter
- Top 16 in both 1-meter and 3-meter at NCAA nationals to become 2-time All-American
- Still current record holder at Iowa for 1-meter, 3-meter, and 3-meter synchro
USA Diving Competitions
- Made finals at USA senior nationals 12 times since 2009
- Placed 10th on 3-meter in first national final in 2009
- Placed 4th in 3-meter synchro with partner Veronica Rydze in 2010 and 2011
- Competed in first World Championship Trials in 2011 placing 13th on 1-meter and 8th in 3-meter synchro with partner Veronica Rydze
- 2012 winter nationals: placed 3rd on 1-meter, and 5th in 3-meter synchro with partner Veronica Rydze
- Competed internationally at the 2012 Grand Prix Canada Cup, placing 5th in 3-meter synchro with Veronica Rydze
- Qualified for 2012 US Olympic Trials and placed 4th in 3-meter synchro with Veronica Rydze and 18th on 3-mete
- 2013 World Championship Trials: placed 1st in 3-meter, 2nd in 1-meter, and 3rd in 3-meter synchro with partner Kaylea Arnett
- 2013 World Championships in Barcelona, Spain: made 1-meter final, placing 11th and finished 22nd on 3-meter
- 2013 USA Summer Nationals: finished 1st on 3-meter, 1st in 3-meter synchro with Kaylea Arnett, and 2nd on 1-meter
- Placed 1st in 3-meter synchro with partner Maren Taylor and 4th on 1-meter at 2013 USA Winter Nationals
- Competed in two of the 2014 FINA World Series competitions in Beijing, China and Dubai, UAE in 3-meter synchro with partner Amanda Burke, placing 9th and 6th respectively
- Competed at 2014 World Cup Synchro Trials with partner Maren Taylor, placing 2nd in 3-meter synchro
- Placed 2nd at 2014 AT&T Summer Nationals in 3-meter synchro with Maren Taylor
- Competed at the 2014 FINA Grand Prix in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, placing 2nd with Maren Taylor
- At 2014 Winter Nationals, finished 2nd in 3-meter synchro with partner, Jessica Parratto and placed 5th in individual 3-meter