I started the day off extremely nervous and still quite shaken from such a terrible showing yesterday. I got some really nice comments from friends on Facebook, specifically Drew Johansen who is the Diving Coach for the US Olympic Team. "No such thing as choking...You just need to use that great energy to your advantage!!" Drew posted. This was in response to my report on the day saying that I'd choked and took 11th.
I drove to East LA College, pulled into the parking lot and made my way to the pool.
I warmed up and did decently. Not awesome, but okay.
"What's going on?" Jose asked.
"Nothing," I replied.
"It's not nothing. I can see it in your face," Jose said. He was right. He knows me well enough to know when I'm nervous, or upset.
"I'm just nervous. I already feel defeated for some reason," I replied.
"Look, you're here at State. You deserve to be here just as much as everyone else. Just do what you do. Be consistent. You don't have to be awesome. Just be consistent and you'll do fine," Jose said reassuringly. "I want you to smile at me before every dive," he said.
I smiled at Jose. I climbed the two short steps to the board and tried to relax. I threw my reverse dive, half twist. I was okay, but I was still jumping it out and not as straight up as I needed to. A few more practice dives and I finished until the competition started.
The best thing to come out of this was by the end of warm up, I had my confidence back. And smiling at Jose before every dive had relaxed me and put me in a better mood.
My wife and kids arrived at the meet and just seeing them made me smile and helped me relax. It was time to impress!
The competition began. The girls were up first and then the guys went right after that before starting the next round, so it felt like one big competition. I was the first guy to go. I have mixed feelings about that. It's nice to be done early, but I also think that the first dive is scored a little lower than if you go later.
I nervously approached the board for my back 1-1/2. I moved the fulcrum to the 5-1/2 spot. Corey called out, "William Mackey, 203C, back one and one half tuck."
I walked to the end of the board and turned around. My heels hung off the edge of the board. I put my arms out and balanced myself. I took a breath in, then let it all out. I thought to myself the words of Greg Louganis and Jose Bahena, Be in the moment and jump it up. I bounced once, arms went up as my weight pressed the board down. I jumped up, had a really nice hurdle, rotated one and a half times and entered the water. I was just a bit short and my legs came apart as I entered the water. It wasn't a great dive, but I didn't crash and burn either. So I was happy enough. My scores ranged from 3-1/2 to 4-1/2.
"William Mackey, 303C, reverse one and one half, in the tuck position," Corey announced over the speaker system.
I set the fulcrum to 7-1/2 and lined my heels up with the sixth dot from the back of the board. I released all my air from my lungs just as Greg Louganis had taught me. As I took my first step forward, I began to breath in. I reached the end of the board, did my hurdle and released the air in my lungs on the jump. I jumped up, brought my legs towards me and began rotating backwards towards the board. I rotated one and a half times, kicked out and entered the water. Again, I was short on my entry, and kind of a lot on this one. But again, I didn't crash and burn and it wasn't a horrible dive. Just not a great one.
"William Mackey, 403C, Inward one and one-half tuck," Corey announced. It was my turn. And I'd made it though my most difficult dives. Now it was time to have fun--and catch up.
I put the fulcrum up to 5-1/2, my typical spot for all my backward facing dives. I walked to the end of the board, turned around and inched my heels off the edge of the board. I extended my arms, took a deep breath in, let it out and began my dive. I jumped it up just enough. I also jumped it back a little more than I should have. I tucked into a tight ball and held the dive just a little longer than I normally did. But this was just the right combination to enter the water vertically. I managed to straighten my legs as I was entering the water. It was a pretty solid dive. It would've been better if I'd gotten more height, but it did the trick. My scores ranged from 4.5 to 5.5. Not bad. At the end of round three, I had moved up a few spots to 12th place.
"William Mackey, 103B, forward one and one half in the pike position," Corey said.
I went through my usual paces of setting the fulcrum, taking position and breathing. I jumped straight up and did a great job of staying very close to the board. I rotated a slow 1-1/2, kicked out and entered the water. It wasn't a perfectly vertical entry, but it was a really solid entry. I think some judges saw it and some didn't. My scores ranged from 4.5 to 6.0 The ones that counted were all 5.5. So that was good. Not great, but not bad. It would've been nice to get 6.5 on that dive, but it was a solid dive.
I was up again. My second to last dive ever before ending this whole journey. "William Mackey performing 5311A, reverse dive, half twist in the straight position," Corey called out.
Jump it up, jump it up, I kept telling myself. I did my approach and jumped it up. I twisted around and dove it in. It was pretty good. I could've been a little closer to the board on the entry, but it was decent enough. My scores were kind of all over the map ranging from 4.5 to 6.5. But the ones that counted were 5.5, 5.5 and a 6. That's pretty solid. But would it be enough to pull me out of 12th place? One-meter is pretty competitive. And there were more competitors today than yesterday. One more dive to go.
I set the fulcrum to 7-1/2 one last time. I took the two steps up to the board one last time. I let out one final breath and made my last approach to the end of the board. I jumped up, and threw my body backwards giving it a slight twist. As I flipped over, I threw an inward flip to rotate around and eventually enter the water hands first. It wasn't my best version of that dive. I didn't ride the board all the way up, which affected my height, which affected the amount of time I had to complete the dive. So the entry was kind of ugly, but I was done. I broke the surface of the water to cheers and applause.
The meet ended. I'd done all I could do. The nice thing about going first, is I'd had time to run back to our tent area and throw on a pair of shorts and a shirt. Hopefully I'd make top eight and I wouldn't be the fat guy in a Speedo.
"We have the results of the State Championship Men's 1-meter diving competition," Corey called out. He began at last place and worked his way though the list. I was in 11th place yesterday and so around 12th place, I started hoping I wouldn't hear my name just yet.
"In 12th place from Las Positas College, Jessie Leonard. In 11th Place, from Grossmont College, Erich Schmitt. In 10th place from Grossmont College, Raymond Altmeyer," Corey continued.
I'd made it into the top 10 at the very least! And I'd beaten both of the Grossmont kids! That was kind of a big deal to me! Grossmont has a good team and both of those kids beat me yesterday.
I hoped and prayed the next name would NOT be mine. It was the last spot that was NOT All American. Corey continued, "In ninth place from De Anza College, DJ Yvanovich."
I jumped up and down with a big smile on my face! I had made it into the top eight!! The only way this could get any better would be if I could finally place ahead of Aaron Garcia from Riverside College on the 1-meter. He had consistently beat me on the 1-meter board. So to beat him just once, would be such an awesome way to finish! (I had beat him every time on 3-meter until yesterday, when he beat me.)
"And now your All American divers," Corey called out. "In eighth place from Riverside College, Aaron Garcia."
I did it! Check and check!
"In seventh place, from El Camino College, William Alex Mackey," Corey announced.
Seventh place! I couldn't be happier! I'd made All American! The guys from Northern California were tough. There were only two guys from Southern California that placed ahead of me (Jacob Swanson and Jakob Wood). I came in 5th place at the Southern California regionals, so to end up in 7th place was a pretty big and sort of unexpected accomplishment!
After photos with the family, with Coach Jose and the top eight, I packed up my things one last time and exited the aquatics facility.
I had started this journey with the goal to make it to State. I made it to State and then even managed to become All American at State. It was a dream come true, made possible not just through hard work, but with the help of a very dedicated coach at El Camino, Jose Bahena. And then to have the help and support of both Greg Louganis and Drew Johansen made this journey that much more amazing.
And finally, without the support of Janice, my loving wife, this would not have been possible. She did so much to keep everything together the past four months, I've very grateful for her!
Pursue your passion. Live your dreams and remember, it's never too late.