By Mackenzie Hagist
During my four years at Northeastern, I can confidently say that travel and meet days are among some of my favorites. From the moment I pack my bag to travel, to the second the last relay is over I am always overflowing with emotions. There’s something about getting up, putting on a uniform, and representing your school. A feeling of pride, excitement, and even a little anxiety. Once the team is all together and the camaraderie gets going, I feel what nerves I have get wiped away for a while. A moment in time that stands out in particular was during the 2017 CAA Championships. I had just returned from being very sick and hadn’t touched a diving board in about 2 weeks. My meet day jitters were at an all time high and every thought I had was filled with doubt, but my teammates pep talks and cheering helped zone me in so I could do my job. The swim and dive team always seem to feed off each other’s positive energy and team spirit.
When it comes time to dive I shift my focus. In diving it is so easy to get ahead of yourself and rush things, especially under pressure. I learned over my 6 years in this sport that this has no benefit. It’s so important to keep a level head.
In a meet, my nerves will start to set in just before I climb the ladder during my turn in each of the 6 rounds. Hearing my teammates cheer for me as I climb up onto the board helps me turn those meet-day jitters into excitement and adrenaline. When I roll the fulcrum of the board I talk myself through each step of the dive. Reminding myself to think one thing at a time and to focus on the hurdle. A good hurdle is the most essential part of a successful dive. Once the fulcrum is set, I listen carefully to what dive is being announced. Then I lock into place.
At this point the cheering has stopped and the Natatorium is so quiet, you can hear the water dripping off the board and into the pool. Three deep breaths and I begin to move. The world is flipped upside down so fast once I take off the board. Somehow I am able to keep track of where I am and where I need to lock my hands in. I punch through the water, squeeze every muscle I have, and just like that the dive is over in an instant. There is so much work and preparation put into such a short dive, that it leaves you breathless and relieved.
Once I’m back at the surface of the pool and I hear my teammates clapping and screaming, I can’t help but smile. I climb out and cheer on my fellow husky divers and immediately start preparing myself for the next round of dives. Diving is a mental game and you have to play it right.
Featured image by Brian Bae.