An Unexpected Fear
17-year-old Team USA diver Jordan Windle—a specialist in the 10-meter platform event—is afraid of heights.
“10 meters is three stories high,” he says, laughing. “But the thing I love about diving is being able to overcome the fear.”
Jordan took his first plunge when he was 7 years old. After 30 minutes on the platform, he finally jumped—and he hasn’t stopped jumping since.
In addition to being one of the youngest-ever U.S. Men’s National Champion on 10-meter platform (an event he won when he was only 15 years old); he is also a 2-time U.S. National Champion on the 3-meter springboard in the mixed-gender synchronized event – his synchro partner is Olympic Silver Medalist, Abbey Johnston.
An Alternative to Traditional School
As a kid, Jordan attended traditional schools in his home state of Florida.
But, when his diving started improving in the sixth grade, coaches began to notice—and to give him advice on educational options that would let him pursue diving more seriously. So, Jordan and his family turned to the K- 12 global online private school, International Connections Academy.
“Multiple coaches have told me that this is the best program that will allow the training I need for my future,” says Jordan of International Connections Academy, or iNaCa, as it’s commonly known. “Attending iNaCa is one of those things that’s going to help me reach my educational and athletic goals.”
In the meantime…? “I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
An Unusual Schedule
Jordan has a demanding schedule—he trains from 7:30-9:00 in the morning and again from 3:30-5:30 in the afternoon. He then coaches from 6-7:30 in the evening. In between diving practices, he “goes to school”—in his hotel room, if he’s traveling.
“If there’s no desk, I’d normally sit on my bed, have my notebook on my left and my computer on the right,” explains the left-handed Jordan. “I’ll just pull up my book, write down my notes, study, take my quizzes, and get caught up or get ahead.”
He particularly enjoys math and science, although they’ve given him trouble in the past.
Jordan receives instruction from and works closely with highly trained, certified teachers. Depending on time zones, Dad Jerry is also available to answer questions via FaceTime.
Traveling the World
Jordan doesn’t have a high school prom or homecoming events to go to, but iNaCa “has allowed Jordan to be able to do things that so many school-age children cannot do,” says Jerry, who has a degree in elementary education.
“A lot of the things he has read about…he has been able to go outside of the textbook and physically feel it and touch it and see it,” he says.
After Jordan wrote a paper on the Holocaust, he was able to go to the Holocaust Museum in Germany while he was competing there, sending his dad emotional messages the whole time. After studying about China’s Forbidden City in class, he went and visited it.
Jordan agrees wholeheartedly.
“I’ve been able to travel the world, meet different people, have different experiences, and bring my family with me,” he says. “I wouldn’t change my life for anything.”
Discipline, Focus and Success
While Jordan enjoys the flexibility of his online school—which allows him to travel the world for competitions and stick to a rigorous training schedule—iNaCa is definitely no walk in the park.
“It’s not an easy program,” says Jerry. “It is definitely a challenging curriculum – which is a great thing!”
“You don’t just get through it. It takes a lot of hard work,” he says. “The discipline that it takes for Jordan to be successful in his sport is the same discipline it takes for him to be successful in school. He’s the one driving getting that schoolwork done.”
As one of the youngest competitors on Team USA, Jordan, Jerry points out, is often in his hotel room studying while his adult teammates are out visiting with one another and having fun following competitions.
The constant balancing act of school and sports has trained Jordan to focus on the task at hand—while also trying to enjoy being a kid.
“When it comes time to doing school, I try to not think about diving. I’m focused, trying to get the job done,” he says. The same goes for competing. “His sport has certainly supplemented his academics,” explains Jerry.
It seems like the formula is working. In addition to making the Olympic trials and finishing 4th in the Country this year, says Jordan, “I’ve been on the honor roll every year.”
Although Jordan didn’t compete in Rio this year, he’s set his sights on Tokyo in 2020. And as a dual citizen of the United States and Cambodia, where he was born, he’s considering representing that country in four years.
“I want to be a physical therapist when I graduate college,” says Jordan. “I definitely have to stay focused on school so in the future I can become what I want to be.”
As the top diving recruit in the U.S. right now—with interest from the University of Texas, the University of Miami, Ohio State, University of Southern California, Stanford and University of Michigan—he’s well on his way.
“Every diver is waiting for him to decide so they can find out where they’re going to school,” says Jerry.
With a rock-solid foundation of supportive parents, International Connections Academy, and his own determination, the sky’s the limit for Jordan—assuming he can keep that fear of heights at bay.