Junior Katie Helly had no idea she had broken Ithaca College’s diving record on the 3-meter until after the meet, when her father told her. Helly usually keeps track of her score, but during the women’s swimming and diving team’s meet Jan. 28 against Union College in Schenectady, New York, her main focus was having fun with her teammates because Union did not have any competitors.
Helly recorded a score of 323.55, shattering senior Nickie Griesemer’s 2015 record of 316 on the 3-meter for six dives Jan. 28.
Assistant Sports Editor Caitie Ihrig spoke with Helly about breaking the record, the upcoming NCAA National Championships and her goals for the rest of the season.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Caitie Ihrig: Did you have your eyes set on breaking the record?
Katie Helly: Honestly, breaking records, like if you have a really good day, then you can maybe do it, but you have to have a really good day, and the judges have to be in your favor. It’s kind of like that balance, but it’s kind of interesting because you could have one bad dive, and there it goes. You have to be on that day. A lot of records for us are high because we have a tradition of really great divers at Ithaca. … It’s just this crazy thing. It still hasn’t hit me yet that my name is going to be up there.
CI: Did you know while you were competing that you were close to breaking the record?
KH: I actually had no idea. When we are competing at home, out of all my teammates, I am the score watcher. I like to know what my scores are. I like to know where I am. I literally want to know everything. At Union, they don’t have an electronic scoring system, so everything is done by paper. My parents are at almost every one of my meets, and my dad keeps track of everything. He’s the guy in the stands that has his laptop open and taking down my scores. He knows my score before the table even knows my score. He didn’t even tell me where I was at, and it was just a fun meet for us. … I had no idea, and he told me my score after, and I was completely shocked. My personal best before this past weekend was 288 or something like that. To have that big jump is ridiculous. I had never broken 300 before, never mind 323. It was one of those shocker moments that was like, “Did I just do that?”
CI: Are there any new dives that you want to learn?
KH: This season I have learned a ton of new dives. … I’m currently learning a reverse 2 1/2, but it won’t go in competition this year. Before we compete a dive, we have probably learned it six months prior. One of my biggest dives this year that I have done at almost every meet is my reverse 2 1/2 twister, and I learned that before nationals last year.
CI: What are your goals for the rest of the season?
KH: We have states coming up in two weeks. We have a very legitimate chance of going one, two, three, four at states for both 1-meter and 3-meter, so that is a big team goal for us. For me, to do as well as I know I can do. … Zones, the goal is to go to nationals. It’s controlling everything and knowing that I can do it again. It’s going to be fun at zones because it’s going to be the four of us who all have a chance of getting one of those top places. Nationals is the end goal.
CI: As a captain, how do you mentor and lead the team?
KH: It’s interesting this year because Nickie is a senior, but I’m the captain of the team. Collectively, all four of us [upperclassmen] lead because we have two freshmen on our diving team, and then we have all the swimmers. As a captain, I’m the one to always laugh at practice. We are always laughing. We are always dancing. … I do my part of keeping that light attitude at practice, but also motivating everybody to keep the work up.
CI: Do you have your sight on nationals again this year?
KH: Absolutely. Ever since nationals ended last year, it was my goal to get back there this year. It stinks because zones is two days, and it’s one of those things where if you dive well those two days, you go to nationals, and if you don’t, you don’t. If we just stay consistent, the four of us know what we can do. … I really want to go back. It was the most fun part of last year. It’s interesting because states is the most fun as a team aspect and it’s most of the swimmers last meet, but nationals is this whole ‘oh my god, I’m here,’ and it’s crazy.
CI: What was it like making nationals last year?
KH: It was a shock. It was my goal, but at the same time, I was like, ‘It’s not the end of the world,’ because I was only a sophomore. I made it on the first day of zones last year, which was a complete shock. I’m better at 3-meter, but I made it on 1-meter last year. … Making it was awesome, and my parents were there. … It’s especially fun this year because we already qualified a relay for nationals, so that’s an added bonus. It won’t be just divers. There’s going to be a lot more of us. Hopefully, we will get some divers there.