When Mike Tamberino, then all of 8 years old, came hom with word that he had been asked to join Dulaney Pool's summer diving team, his mother had a predictable response.
"No," Sherry Tamberino said. "You might get hurt. Go right back and tell them you can't."
Mike's father, Tony, held up a restraining hand. If there was supervision and instruction, he said, why not?
Why not, indeed? Today, Tamberino has a string of diving victories and titles among his credits, including three consecutive MSA championships as Loyola's ace of the springboard. The only senior on the Dons' swimming squad, Tamberino will go for four straight in the MSA meet Feb. 20 at Johns Hopkins.
From the start, Tamberino's major competition in the MSA has been Jamie Edwards of Gilman. Each year Edwards has finished second by a slim margin to Tamberino in the MSA championships. When they were sophomores, entering the second day of competition, Tamberino was even obliged to come from behind to win.
Yet in dual meet competition, Edwards has dominated. He had six straight decisions over his rival in Loyola-Gilman meets until the teams' encounter this month. That day, Tamberino piled up 284 points, edging Edwards and threatening the Loyola pool record of 289.80 set by John Sharkey, now diving for Pitt.
"Jamie does dives with harder degrees of difficulty in the duals," Tamberino said as he prepared for Loyola's swimming meet tomorrow at Calvert Hall.
"I don't do them because I don't want to get hurt on the [inferior] boards. Jamie doesn't care; he's crazy. I save my hard ones for the championship meets, when the boards are better, like at Johns Hopkins."
Tamberino's newest hard dives off a 1-meter board are an inward 2 1/2 in the tuck position and a reverse 1 1/2 with 2 1/2 twists. He learned them a few weeks ago at the Montgomery Aquatic Center in Rockville where he practices year-round under coach John Wolsh. Tamberino was drawn to Montgomery by its fine facilities, including a 10-meter platform.
"Mike is devoted," his mother said. "He drives down there after school, practices for 2 1/2 hours, gets home at 9 o'clock and still has to do his homework."
Tamberino, a two-time high school All-America (as is Edwards), is being heavily recruited by Pitt, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Syracuse and Maryland. If he opts for Pitt, he'll follow a Loyola alumnus, Sharkey.
"Sharkey qualified for the NCAA championships last year," said Loyola coach Murray Stephens. "Tamberino came close to Sharkey's Loyola pool record this month, so that gives you some idea how good he is."
As he progressed through age-group diving in the Central Maryland Swim League, Tamberino dived with and against Sharkey for five years.
"He'd set a record and I'd come along two years later and break it," Tamberino said. "It got to be a standing joke. When I saw him last summer, he asked if I had broken his Loyola pool record yet. I said no. He said I'd never break it. So what he has done is challenge me."
Loyola still has a few home meets for Tamberino to meet that challenge.