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McEntire pilot dives into competition

Capt. Justin "Alf" Dumais, an F-16 fighter pilot with the 157th Fighter Squadron at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., poses for his photo to be taken on the flight line August 5, 2012.
(SCANG photo by Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson)

Capt. Justin "Alf" Dumais, an F-16 fighter pilot with the 157th Fighter Squadron at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., poses for his photo to be taken on the flight line August 5, 2012. (SCANG photo by Tech. Sgt. Caycee Watson)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, South Carolina -- After hours and hours of training, it's now time for take-off.

However, a few significant matters must be checked before leaving the runway. Mentally prepared? Check. System readiness? Check. Runway cleared? Check. Prepare for take-off!

But wait... one more thing. After take-off, be positioned for a precise landing in about 2.5 seconds. Huh?

If this appears to be a fighter pilot preparing for a mission, it is... but isn't.

Capt. Justin Dumais, of the 157th Fighter Squadron is not only a SCANG F-16 pilot, but is also a world class athlete who participated in the 2004 Olympic Games' synchronized diving competition.

"When I participated in the 2004 Olympics, our team was positioned to win the gold," he said. "A missed dive caused us to lose out on a medal.

"My desire was to participate in this year's games, but the USA Olympic Committee thought my brother and his new partner was a better fit," said Dumais. "I wanted to take part, but 'it is what it is' and that's beyond my control. However, it would have been great."

The greatest part is that Dumais competed so well in this year's competition, after being retired from the sport the last seven years, during which his brother, Troy, continued to dive with his current partner.

Before retirement, Dumais enjoyed 20 years of competitive diving. He then decided do something different, like train to be a jet pilot. The similarities were striking.

"I think that competitive diving and flying the F-16 are very similar, in that 'the devil is in the details,' they can be stressful, and both leave little margin for error," he said. "If you don't do either for a while, you are going to get a little rusty, and lose your edge."

In spite of the eventual outcome of the Olympic trials, Dumais is very appreciative to the SCANG for allowing him the opportunity and time to participate in the training and competition of the 2012 Summer Games.

"I really appreciate McEntire for their support, and more specifically, Base Operations and Col. David "Oscar" Meyer for allowing me the opportunity to compete," he said. "I wanted to go to Afghanistan, but this was an awesome opportunity, and I was told that Afghanistan wasn't going anywhere."

Dumais began diving at the age of eight in a neighbor's backyard pool along with his brothers.

They started out learning the basics of swimming, but when that became a little boring, they decided to spice it up by jumping from the traditional spring diving board.

"My brothers and I began to do tricks from the diving board," he said. "That's what led to my interest in competitive diving."

Troy, his brother, won the bronze medal in the 2012 London summer games in the synchronized diving competition, but Capt. Dumais remains a winner in his own right.

"It was bittersweet to watch my brother win, because I really wanted to be a part of his victory," said Dumais. "But I look at it this way, he may have a bronze, but I fly the F-16."

Capt. Dumais, who resides in Florida with his wife, Dr. Amy Dumais, was scheduled to participate in the diving competition at the nationals in Greensboro, N.C. last month.

Nice landing.