Macayla Hodkinson’s love for diving began when she was just five years old. She would go to the pool with her mother at Eisenhower Park and watch as others sprung off the board.
Hodkinson soon expressed interest in participating in the sport, and after her parents signed her up for a club team as she headed into first grade, the Bethpage sophomore diver became enamored.
“I had my first competition in July of 2009 and I remember that it was very nerve-wracking for the first few dives but got easier as I kept going,” Hodkinson said. “I didn’t care how I placed, I just wanted to have fun.”
For the last 10 years, Hodkinson has been diving nonstop and has continued to pile up the accolades along the way.
In 2017, she became the first girl in Bethpage history to dive on varsity as a seventh-grader. Last year, she was the first freshman in school history to qualify for the girls swimming and diving state championship, when she finished fourth at the 2018 Nassau County diving championship with a score of 440.85 for 12 dives.
Although Hodkinson did not make it past the first round at states, she gained some valuable experience from her fellow competitors.
“I had a lot of fun and it was a great opportunity for me to go up against the best divers in the state,” Hodkinson said. “All of the girls were so amazing and even gave me some pointers after I finished my dives.”
A typical day for Hodkinson during the swim season consists of going to school for six hours, attending practice or competing in a meet for two to three hours, going home to grab something to eat and heading to her club practice from 7-9 p.m. four times a week.
Somehow, as busy as she is, she still finds a way to get her homework done.
“It’s a lot. I get overwhelmed sometimes and figure out ways to handle it,” Hodkinson said. “It’s tough, too, because I miss out on a bunch of stuff like hanging out with my friends or going to football games. But in the end, I realize that it is more important for my future to go to practice if I want to become a better diver.”
Her dedication to the sport has produced results, including a personal best earlier this season on September 18 in a dual meet against Wantagh at Bethpage High School.
In the 1-meter diving portion of the meet, she scored a 274.80 in her six dives, the highest score in Nassau this season and the eighth-best in the state to this point.
“It just felt different that day. My teammate Abby gave me a pep talk before we started, and I felt more confident in my dives,” Hodkinson said. “I kept going up to my coach and asking for my score. Seeing that number wants me to push myself even more.”
With just three meets remaining in the regular season, Hodkinson still has some lofty expectations.
“One of my goals is to break the school record,” she said. “I want to challenge myself with new dives that have a higher degree of difficulty. If I am going to make it to the semifinals of the state championships this year, that's what I'm going to need to do.”