Diver Max Levy makes a splash before state championship

January 29, 2013

By Lillian O'Rorke

Max Levy stretches his body straight as he enters the water Jan. 9 during diving practice with his teammates at Julius Boehm Pool. By Greg Farrar

Max Levy stretches his body straight as he enters the water Jan. 9 during diving practice with his teammates at Julius Boehm Pool. By Greg Farrar

The end of the diving board at Julius Bohem Pool flutters under Max Levy, who bounces more intently every time until finally he lifts off, the line from his pointed toes to his up-stretched hands forming an arrow.

In the air, he flips his body backward, spins and he enters the water facing the same direction that he started.

He has several more dives to run through before practice is over.

Levy has spent the last several weeks preparing for the boys state swimming and diving championships. While the big day is not until Feb. 15, the Skyline senior has had his ticket to high school’s culminating diving competition since Jan. 5. Heading to state qualifier that day at Juanita High School, Levy needed a score of 300 to secure a spot at state. But by the time he had finished his 11th dive, judges had awarded him 516.2 points.

“I just focused on getting the motion correct and making it so that my dives were as fluid as possible and that when I went in the water there wasn’t a lot of splash,” Levy said.

Despite his high marks, the 17-year-old thought he could have done better. After reviewing a recording of his dives, he said he thought some were off — one was a bit short and his splash was too big on a couple others.

Levy explained that the better the dive, the smaller the splash. Other elements, he said, include your approach to the end of the board, the first jump, then the second.

“All those have to be in a cohesive manner to be able to do the dive correctly and be close enough to the board without actually hitting it, or going too far,” he said.

When Levy switched from gymnastics to diving three years ago, he already had good balance and was comfortable doing all the flips and twists.

He had started gymnastics when he was 10, a year after his family moved from California to Sammamish, but after a shin fracture limited his progress, Levy traded gymnastics for diving.

“It was starting to get really repetitive and that just really isn’t what I wanted,” he said. “Also, I wanted to try a school sport since they didn’t have a guys’ gymnastics team for Skyline. So, diving was the next best thing.”

Levy’s coach, Ellen Owen, who works with Skyline, Issaquah and Liberty high schools’ divers, said that for the short number of years that he has been competing, Levy is phenomenal.

“What makes him good is certainly his body awareness,” she said, adding that a lot of time gymnastics does not transfer very well to diving.

In the air, the twists and flips transfers, but the mechanics are completely different.

“He picked it up real quickly because he can imitate what they [other divers] are doing and he’s got great balance….He just wants to do it,” Owen said.

Now, in a few weeks time, Levy could be Skyline’s next state champion. For the last two years, he has occupied second place, and he said he is ready to move up and take the title this year.

Coincidently, Levy said he is best at the dive that robbed him of first place last year — the inner-one-and-a-half pike.

“I got distracted before. I was talking, laughing — I wasn’t completely in my zone,” he said. “Then I got up on the board and lost my balance and fell back. And I had to tuck over my inner one-and-a-half pike to make it, which is breaking form.”

Levy lost the championship by three points, but he is not nervous about this year.

“ Just keep practicing. Perfect practice makes perfect,” he said. “It’s just another meet. Gymnastics was just the same way. You completed in front of a lot of people, and you just had to stay, not focused on other people but stay focused on yourself — focused on what you’re doing and not let anyone else distract you.”

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