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May 14, 2003

ULM Senior Among the World's Elite Divers

Few people can say that their name has appeared internationally ranked on a Top 20 list. The University of Louisiana at Monroe is home for at least one person whose name has been on such a roster. ULM student Sean Braud, who is scheduled to receive his Master's Degree in Mass Communication this Saturday, has been ranked 16th in the World of Cliff Diving.

Cliff Diving is an extreme sport where athletes dive from three times the height of the highest Olympic level. Somersaults and twists are performed, making the jumps even more spectacular. A dive from 24 meters requires a minimum water depth of 5 meters and the speed of the diver could reach 100 km/h. Any miscalculation or loss of concentration could have disastrous if not fatal consequences. Professional Cliff Divers number less than 150 in the entire world.

Braud is a professional high diver, cliff diver, and stuntman who has worked at various theme parks around the United States.

A native of Boston, he holds a Mass Communications and Theatre Arts degree from University of Pittsburgh. Braud was a member of three Big East Championship diving teams while at Pittsburgh. In 1993, Braud was voted the team's most valuable diver and was a two-time All-Big East Conference selection at the University.

While earning his master's degree at ULM Braud coached the ULM divers for four seasons. He worked diligently to rebuild the ULM diving program.

Head Swimming Coach, John Pittington, explains, "I think he is a great individual. He has been very dedicated and committed to the program. He took a program that was almost non-existent (the diving part) and brought it up to where we garnered national prominence. He is extremely family oriented. During his time at ULM he has been on quite a roller coaster ride, but he stayed committed and focused. Anyone else may not have stuck with it."

"He is very well thought of and did a great job with his degree. We are going to miss him a lot; he has a lot of character. I think he has other goals in life, but I know he could be one of the top coaches in the country. He can coach, he can recruit, and he can manage the athletes. We wish him the best in the future," said Pittington.

Braud said, "I was glad to help reinstate diving, before me there wasn't a coach here and no divers. Diving is important to the swim team and I was proud to be a part of that."

"The communication department, all of my professors, I would love to thank them for all of education they gave me. It's a very close knit department and I was really impressed and thankful to have had those professors teach and befriend me," said Braud.

Braud was active as treasurer for the Public Relations Student Society of America chapter at ULM and also volunteered for the American Cancer Society in his free time.

During the off-season at ULM, Braud worked as a professional diver. In 2001, he placed 12th in the Red Bull World Cliff diving Qualifying Championships in Athens, Greece, which earned him a World ranking of 16.

In 2002, he competed in the Red Bull World Tour competition in Monaco, France, and the Fedemar World Cup Cliff Diving Championships in various spots in Southern Italy, where he placed as high as fifth. Braud is grouped in the upper echelon of the world's elite cliff divers.

With a dual undergraduate major in Mass Communication and Theatre Arts, Braud has put his experience to use working for Sacco Shows, Inc., one of the largest and most reputable aquatic live-entertainment companies in the world. For six of his seven years of employment, Braud has worked as an Entertainment Director for Sacco Shows, Inc. During the summer of 1999, under the direction of Braud, his show was awarded best live performance show of the entire company and as a result, Braud received recognition as the best Entertainment Director from Vice-President Kathe Sacco.

Braud says believe it or not he is actually scared of heights and every dive is nerve wracking.

Braud said, "A lot of diving is in your head, and if you can't see the dive in your mind before you do it, then you shouldn't be doing it."

He says he has to stay focused on each dive. The sport is not an easy one, but Braud says the satisfaction of completing such a feat is extremely rewarding to him.

"I am scared every time I go up there. I have not met one diver yet that has not admitted their fear. It would be scary to meet someone that was not afraid. What means more to me is not the rush, but the completion of a goal or a fulfillment of goal. Each year, I decide if I am going to learn a new dive. I love to see a thousand people looking at me. I love making people laugh and I can during a fun show. I love performing, being in front of a crowd, that keeps me going."

A gymnast as a child, Braud discovered early in life that water sports were his calling. He took a few diving lessons as a teenager and in high school he joined the diving team. He says that when he started he was way behind all the others but his combination of raw talent and desire catapulted him to the top. That same desire and talent has kept him coming back to the water.

"I dive because it's still practical, I get paid to do it, I love it, and it's something I have been doing all my life. As long as I am physically able to do it- I will. As a matter of fact the following weekend after graduation I will be diving in Atlanta."

Braud will perform as the high diver in the high-diving show at Six Flags over Georgia in Atlanta this summer. While there he will also work in the theme park's Public Relations department. While diving is his passion, Braud's career goals are aimed more at public relations in either entertainment or athletics.

Also during the summer Braud will go to Monaco, France, to dive in an invitational competition (where Prince Albert is a fan). Braud said he feels he needs to redeem himself since the last time he was there he broke his tailbone. Braud dove 95 feet last time in Monaco, which is his highest dive to date.

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