He walked along the edge, shaking, trembling scared for his life. He looked out into the open blue, such a long way down. He conjured the courage and jumped in.
This was the beginning of Joey Argoncillo’s diving career and just a piece of what he stands for. He became one of the best divers in California at the community college level by stepping out of his comfort zone. A comfort zone is a psychological state where things feel familiar to a person. Where they are at ease and in control of their environment, experiencing low levels of anxiety and stress.
Doing things that he’s not comfortable with has become a staple in his life, something he uses to push himself and grow.
“I live my life out of my comfort zone. Because if you’re out of your comfort zone, it’s a really memorable experience when you do something that scares you. Because of the fact that you overcame it, it makes life more meaningful.”
This attitude was not always the norm for Argoncillo. Most of his life he struggled in school, he didn’t have that person behind him pushing him. Most people end up falling by the wayside and letting life pass them by, falling into depression and dark periods in their life.
Argoncillo’s response to stagnation was frustration. For a year after his graduation from high school trying to figure himself out. Looking at others’ lives and wondering why his wasn’t clicking.
“One day I was so frustrated and I ran outside of my house from Lathrop to Tracy. I wasn’t prepared at all, I just woke up frustrated at life and thought ‘I’m so much more capable than I give myself credit for.’ And that’s when I started realizing things. So I ran outside my house and to the next city. There were some issues in between but I got to where I needed to go. Something about it was so liberating. Knowing most people wouldn’t do what I did. But I overcame that run and have never felt more alive. It was one of the most intense feelings and moments, and I realized that this is what it means to live life on your own terms. So I try to apply that feeling to my everyday life.”
Living his life on his own terms stuck with Argoncillo. It wasn’t clear to him in high school but when he took that run, it changed everything for him. Bringing the best out of himself to help other people.
This life change started with attempting to join the Airforce, but that didn’t work out for him. Next was pushing his music further beginning to perform in front of people. That helped him grow further, in himself. Argoncillo had to be his own support, he had to be the one in his life to push and encourage himself.
That can cause many people to fold but Argoncillo’s strength to continue to endure wouldn’t let himself stay down.
When Argoncillo got to Las Positas College his drive to tackle new challenges was at its height.
As a kinesiology major, he ended up taking a class with head swim coach Jason Craighead.
“I was looking for something that was out of my comfort zone, that I could push myself to do. So my teacher (Craighead) every once in a while would mention swimming. But he would never mention diving.
“I’ve always been afraid of the water. Jumping into beaches and into pools that had water beyond my height.”
Finally at 22 years old he decided to face his fear.
“I walked over to the gym and saw the pool and saw swimmers doing their thing, swimming super-fast. I felt like I was missing out on a whole aspect of my life. Seeing people using jet skis and going scuba diving. I watched a dude jump off the board, and I told myself ‘that’s it, let’s go’ and I can’t even swim but I joined the team right then and there.” Argoncillo said.
In sports you start slow, in basketball you start learning how to make layups before shooting three pointers. In soccer, you start learning to kick before you ever learn to dribble and shoot. But Argoncillo bypassed all the traditional swim lessons and went right to the big leagues in diving.
“We had to teach him how to swim in a few weeks, well, get him water safe at least.” Craighead said.
The biggest challenge for Argoncillo was not getting him in the water, it was teaching him to get back up to the surface.
“It was a gradual process for him. Especially in diving because if things don’t go right, it hurts a bit. You take your lumps and have good bruises and scrapes. But it takes the right attitude.”
Argoncillo had the right attitude his life until this point has brought him here and allowed him to qualify for the State diving championships in his first year of swimming. Out of 37 teams he finished 17th in the state.
Argoncillo’s defining quality will help him in his diving career and in his life moving forward.
“He’s so determined, he just has a positive mindset. When he decided he was going to do it, he did it,” Craighead said. “More power to him, it’s just awesome. A lot of people would have quit, wouldn’t even have made it past learning to swim and just said ‘forget it it’s not for me’ but he’s just so determined.