For The Madera Tribune
Former Madera Coyote divers Dennis Rowe, left, and Donnie McAlister relax after winning gold medals at the FINA World Masters Championships in Budapest in August.
Dennis Rowe and Don McAlister, as they both did from 1962 to 1966 as Madera High Coyotes, dominated the competition at the FINA 2017 Masters World Diving Championships in Budapest this August.
Combing for five gold metals and two silvers in four events, the duo grew up in Madera and trained at McAlister Pool under Madera Athetic Hall of Fame coach Bill McAlister (Don’s father, long time Madera swimming, diving and gymnastic coach and teacher). They will be 69 later this year and participated in the 65-69 age group. McAlister was a four-time valley champion at Madera High and was named All-American his senior year.
Rowe won several B Team Valley Championships over the years and was second to McAlister his senior year.
He also dove for Cal Berkeley and was a member of the 1968 UC Berkeley, NCAA Championship gymnastics team. In addition, Rowe has volunteered as a youth and high school diving coach in Maui for 20-plus years.
Rowe, a retired cardiologist from Maui, Hawaii and McAlister, who owns and manages a wholesale nursery in Eugene, Ore., have been competing in Masters diving for 16 and 14 years, respectively, and have, over the years, dominated the various age groups they have participated in.
This year’s World Championships was no different. Rowe took first in one-meter and three-meter events and McAlister took the silver in both. Rowe came back and finished first in platform diving from five and seven meters.
However, the former Maderans did provide a little drama as they got off to a poor start in the men’s team, three-meter synchronized diving event, normally an event they dominate.
Because of the two-member teams, there are only two separate age group distinctions. Divers in the younger group have a two-member team age combination of less than 100 years of age while the older group of divers have a combined age of over 100.
Rowe and McAlister were the second eldest team in the older group of divers, and were competing against some men in their early 50s.
After the first round of dives, the former Maderans were far back in the pack out of 13 teams. After the second round they moved to seventh from 10th place, and after round three, they moved to fifth place and there was a chance they might not even place in the top three.
On the fourth and final dive of the day, the pair hit their most difficult dive in their repertoire, a double, twisting one and a half somersault that had a high degree difficulty of 2.5. Their scores from the judges were four 8.5s and a 9.0, the top scores of the day. This catapulted the pair into first place and won gold medals by the just 1.4 points.
Once again champions, just like old days at Madera High School.