McLean dives into competition

Swim and dive team participate in highest skill bracket

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McLean dives into competition

Zazi Halla prepares for her dive in the girls' one-meter division at states. She finished in fourth place.

Zazi Halla prepares for her dive in the girls' one-meter division at states. She finished in fourth place.

Susan Miranda

Zazi Halla prepares for her dive in the girls' one-meter division at states. She finished in fourth place.

Susan Miranda

Susan Miranda

Zazi Halla prepares for her dive in the girls' one-meter division at states. She finished in fourth place.

Sebastian Jimenez, Opinions Editor

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From Feb. 15-18, the McLean swim and dive team headed to George Mason University for the state-level swim-offs. Among their adversaries were high schools from all over Virginia, with those hailing from close districts such as Yorktown and George Marshall as well as other schools found throughout the state. As is the case with state-wide competitions, the swimmers present were extremely skilled with many years of experience, including McLean’s.

“I have been on McLean swim and dive since freshman year and have been swimming in general for nine years,” junior Dora Wu said.

For swim specifically, there are many different brackets of races, with individual competitions as well as team relays.

“Our 200-meter freestyle relay got disqualified at preliminaries which was somewhat disappointing but there are always other opportunities,” Wu said.

Despite this mishap, the team still did well. Wu herself competed in the 200-yard medley relay and the 100-yard breaststroke, placing eighth and fifth in finals respectively. For a competition with so many skilled swimmers from a huge variety of schools, it was definitely a momentous achievement.

“I overcame the competition by focusing on my swims and just thinking about what was important for my race,” Wu said.

Swim wasn’t the only part of the team that did well at states. For junior Zazi Halla, state competitions were an opportunity for her to showcase her skill. Halla previously did gymnastics for seven years from ages 5-12 before switching to diving.

“Gymnastics was just too much. I remember I had to practice for around six hours on a Saturday; if I kept going, I would definitely have to be homeschooled, which I don’t want,” Halla said.

Just like swim, Halla had to compete against other highly trained and top-notch divers from different clubs. 

“[McLean is in the] most competitive state region. For 6A, at least the top 14 girls were competitive USA club divers, so it was a lot harder than last year when there were only seven girls,” Halla said.

The Northern Virginia region possesses the most prestigious and competitive diving clubs. At state competitions last week, these clubs were present, presenting a considerable challenge to all other divers.

“There’s Dominion Dive Club, Alexandria Dive club, which is what I’m on, and there’s Montgomery as well as Mason Dive Club,” Halla said. “There were girls from all four of those clubs who were placing [highly]. There was two girls from DDC, [who placed] first and second, and then a [Mason Diving Club] girl and then me.”

Despite the fierce adversity, Halla excelled, placing fourth overall in the girls’ one-meter diving division. Both McLean swim and dive performed excellently at state competitions, and the team is setting their sights on next year.

“I hope next year more people can make it to states so it can really be a team event for everyone to experience,” Wu said.

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