Gabriel Dixson made a decision during this year's NCAA Division III men's swimming and diving meet to listen to voices other than his own.

Gabriel Dixson made a decision during this year's NCAA Division III men's swimming and diving meet to listen to voices other than his own.

"The biggest thing I've had to overcome is talking myself out of dives," said Dixson, a 2009 New Albany High School graduate entering his senior year at Denison University. "I would tell myself, 'I can't do it.' Finally (diving coach Jason Glorius) sat me down and said, 'Gabe, I wouldn't have you try this dive if I thought you couldn't do it.'

"I had to stop listening to that little voice inside my head and tell myself, 'My coach thinks I can do it, my teammates think I can do it, so obviously I can do it.' "

During the meet held March 21-24 in Indianapolis, Dixson scored 506.3 points in the 1-meter competition to place second behind Tufts' Johann Schmidt (527.35) and scored 527.65 points in the 3-meter competition to place third behind Wisconsin-Oshkosh's Phil Devine (542.65) and Calvin's Andy Krafft (541.55).

Dixson contributed 33 points to Denison's team score of 600 as the Big Red won its second consecutive national title. Kenyon (519) finished second.

Dixson saved one of his best dives -- a backward, one-and-a-half with a one-and-a-half twist -- for last. Scoring high on the dive put him in first place before Schmidt's final dive.

"I remember completely smoking my last dive," Dixson said. "I looked up at the scoreboard thinking, 'Whoa, I can't believe that just happened.' It was one of the coolest moments of my life.

"Unfortunately (Schmidt) did the same dive just a little bit better than I did and scored a little higher."

At New Albany, Dixson was a three-time state qualifier. He placed 17th as a sophomore and eighth as a junior. In his senior year, with the OHSAA adding a second division to boys swimming and diving, Dixson placed second (466.75) in Division II behind Mogadore Field's Jeff Craig (481.7).

Despite his high school success, it took Dixson awhile to adjust to diving at the collegiate level.

"In high school, going to states was a big deal and it took a lot of hard work to get there," he said. "But the college level is so much more intense. I spend a lot more time at the pool and when I'm not at the pool, there's a lot more academic work. There's a really big transition."

Dixson has come to the forefront the last two years, earning All-American honors in the 1-meter and 3-meter competitions as a sophomore and junior and twice being named the North Coast Athletic Conference Diver of the Year.

As a sophomore, Dixson placed fourth nationally in the 1-meter (431.05) and 3-meter (541.35) while helping Denison end Kenyon's 31-year streak of national team championships by a score of 500.5 points to 499.5.

After the 2011 championship, Dixson and his teammates got tattoos to commemorate the achievement.

"Last year we were thinking, 'We could beat Kenyon this year. We could end their streak,' " Dixson said. "That was kind of our mantra the whole year.

"Going through that whole journey together, you get really close to the other people on the team. I consider them all like my brothers even though we are nowhere near being in the same family."