What started as a whim quickly turned serious, and now the diving neophytes are a huge success. At last weekend’s NCAA Division III championships in Houston, Jon Dohring became Occidental’s first national champion in diving since 1942 when he won the 1-meter and 3-meter springboard events. To make the weekend even more special, Robert Dohring finished a close second to his brother in both events. “Basically all year we’ve been finishing one-two in events,” Jon Dohring said. “There’s been a small margin between us all year, and it usually comes down to the last one or two dives.” That’s what happened in Houston. Robert Dohring led both events after the preliminary rounds, but Jon overtook him in the finals by margins of 457.45-453.70 (1-meter) and 531.00-524.80 (3-meter). Both events remained undecided until the final dives. In the 1-meter event, Jon Dohring edged his brother on the final dive. In the 3-meter event, the brothers did the exact same dive in their final attempt, and Jon maintained his narrow lead and took first place. There was no dramatic sibling rivalry, only celebration. “I was genuinely happy for him,” Robert Dohring said. “There wasn’t any jealously involved, just maybe a little disappointment on my part, because I felt I could have done my dives a little better.” There isn’t much disappointment though, because the brothers understand how far they’ve come. It was less than three years ago when the brothers, now 23but then freshmen, showed up in the office of head coach Peggy Carl and inquired about joining the team, even though they were starting from scratch. “I really didn’t know what to expect,” Carl said. “They said they hadn’t dove since they were 13 and I said, `OK.’I knew that gymnasts tend to have an easier time transferring to diving.” The transition went well. The Dohrings quit diving at age 13 because it conflicted with gymnastics, but a trip back to the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center revived their interest in the sport. Since Division III schools cannot offer athletic scholarships, Carl welcomed the twins with open arms and began their diving education. As gymnasts, they already had the flexibility and body control that is so important in diving, but molding them into divers took long hours with diving coach Roland King. “We definitely started at square one,” Robert Dohring said. “In gymnastics you’re told to never land on your head, for obvious reasons. And a diving board is much different than a springboard, but once we got a hold of that, we saw that we could spin a little faster in diving and we loved it.” Robert Dohring picked things up faster, became a conference champion in his freshman and sophomore years and qualified for nationals last year, but his brother took a big step forward this season. Jon Dohring swept the diving events in the conference championships and twice edged his brother in Houston. The brothers are competitive with each other, but appreciate being able to push each other. “When he learns a new dive, I learn a new dive,” Jon Dohring said. “We’re happy when we beat each other, but it’s not that we’re happy about the other doing poorly. We want to see each other do well.” [email protected] (818) 713-3611160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The hardest part? Learning to land on your head instead of your feet. That’s the main obstacle Jonand Robert Dohring, twins from Glendale, had to overcome when they joined the diving program at Occidental College in 2004, mostly as a way to entertain themselves. At that point, the brothers had scant diving experience, limited to a six-month stint with a club team at age 13. Gymnasts by nature, they knew how to twist and flip, but the nuances of the sport remained foreign.