Sachem North's Rachel Heymach wins second straight Suffolk diving title
Sachem North's Rachel Heymach spun like a supercharged pinwheel in midair before slamming down into the water. The sound on impact was almost loud enough to drown out the echoing roar of the cheering crowd. The sound was deafening to everyone around the pool -- except Heymach.
"I hear nothing under water," Heymach said. "The water blocks out everything."
When Heymach emerged, she was able to bask in the glory that was her second consecutive Suffolk diving championship.
"I'm always excited when I hear the crowd go nuts," Heymach said. "It means I did my job and made it look easy. That's how it's supposed to be."
Heymach scored a 433.60 in the 1-meter dive Friday afternoon at Hauppauge.
"I was really stressed out about trying to keep the title," Heymach said. "I just wanted to score better than I had before."
She did. The score was Heymach's personal best. The victory qualified her for the state swimming and diving championships, scheduled for Nov. 22-23 at Ithaca College. Lindenhurst freshman Grace Reeves, who placed second with a 410.30, also qualified.
On her way to the title, Heymach featured both standards and old favorites. She hadn't attempted her sixth dive, a reverse with a 1 1/2 somersault, since last season's state championships.
"I really needed the degree of difficulty," Heymach said of the dive, which carried a 2.1 difficulty rating. "I knew if I wanted to do my best, I needed to have it on my list."
Heymach said the combination of going forward followed by a backward rotation made the dive the most challenging on her list.
"It's a blind landing," she said. "You can't see where you're going into the water. I tried to get to the end of the board so I could jump higher and time it better. It was nerve-wracking because when I dive, my eyes are closed."
Reeves also featured a relatively new move, a backward dive with a 1 1/2 somersault.
"I just learned it a couple weeks ago," Reeves said. "I did well with it. You have to reach and pull in to go faster."
Heymach's score of 199.45 after her first five dives gave her a 13.45-point lead over Reeves entering the semifinal round. A 310 after eight dives gave her a 16.20-point lead entering the finals.
The margin did nothing to ease Heymach's nerves.
"I was on the edge the entire time," she said. "I wasn't sure until the last dive."