Four years ago, Patrick Carter emerged from the deep end in euphoria with screams and congratulations from the crowd. He knew he wanted to feel that rush again.
And he has. Again, and again, and now, again.
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West Islip’s Carter, a junior, won his fourth consecutive Suffolk diving championship at Hauppauge High School Friday evening with a 579.90 score — getting him 80 percent of the way to his goal set four years ago.
“In eighth grade, I had no expectations at all and when I won it, one of the first things I said to myself is ‘I want to be a five-time county champion,’ ” Carter said. “So just to be able to keep that going, keep that shot going, is just an awesome feeling and walking out of here tonight is just great.”
Carter, sporting a new haircut and spending the previous night eating ice cream before an 8 p.m. bedtime, is ready to go back into rigorous training for this year’s state meet in Buffalo on March 4-5. Carter enjoys both the training periods and the unwinding he does a few days before a big meet.
But don’t forget revenge. Carter placed eighth in the state meet last year and he wants to improve this time.
“That’s motivated me so much,” Carter said. “I didn’t go into the state meet with any expectations last year. A few years ago, I was and it just didn’t always work out going in with such an expectation so this year and last year I just tried to take it dive by dive.”
He understands he hasn’t won these dives alone. Carter thanks his West Islip and club coaches for making him a tremendous diver.
Carter won’t be alone at the state meet as junior Brett Hebert, competing for Huntington/Harborfields, will join him after he scored 523.00 on Friday. It will be Hebert’s third straight state meet, but this one feels more special to him because of a rule change. This year, divers needed a 450 score to qualify for the state meet as opposed to last year’s 420.
“It makes it honestly so much better,” Hebert said, “because it kind of helps to show I’ve improved as a diver since last year.”
Both are excited for the state meet, but Carter never took for granted winning another county title.
“This one just feels great because each and every time you know how much work you put into it,” Carter said. “So just to know it’s paying off each time is just an awesome feeling.”