Timberlake’s plunges lift Hough to victory
by Staff Writer
by Cliff Mehrtens
Blair Timberlake had to make one major adjustment to become a top-notch diver.
“I did gymnastics when I was little,” she said. “There, you learn to land on your feet. In diving, I just had to get used to landing on my head.”
Where Timberlake landed was atop the medal podium as the N.C. 4A diving champion on Feb. 11. Timberlake, a Hough High sophomore, scored 377.5 points in the meet to narrowly edge out Western Guilford’s Lily Armstrong (374.15 points).
Timberlake is the Lake Norman Publication’s 2011-12 Girls Swimmer/Diver of the Year.
“I put pressure on myself to be good this season,” Timberlake said. “I wanted to make every practice count, and never let the little things get to me.”
Timberlake qualified for the state meet by dominating the N.C. 4A Western Regional, which she won by 41 points. It helped, she said, that the regional was held at Huntersville Family Fitness & Aquatic, her home pool.
“I was used to the (diving) boards and the setting at the regionals,” she said. “That helped, but yes, I was amazed at the point difference. At the state meet, I tried to make it the same mentally and block out the distractions. It’s hard to keep calm in that situation, but you have to remind yourself to do what you’re capable of doing.”
Timberlake’s performance helped Hough win the N.C. 4A girls championship, the first team title in school history.
“It definitely was due to my coaches, and how supportive my teammates were,” Timberlake said.
Hough’s swimmers, en route to practice in Cary the day before the swimming state meet began, stopped at the diving competition to cheer on Timberlake.
Timberlake said she used her teammates’ appearance as motivation at the state meet. Unlike many divers, she doesn’t pace or fixate on every dive during competition. She takes almost an opposite approach, making her dives almost instinctive.
“I try not to think about my dives,” Timberlake said. “I only focus for about the 15 seconds I’m on the board.”
Timberlake is a year-round diver who competes at the Carolina Diving Academy in Huntersville, where she’s coached by Aaron Hintz. Five of the six diving state champions at the N.C. High School Athletic Association meet are CDA competitors – Hough High’s Harrison Mitchell (boys 4A), Lake Norman Charter’s Adyson Lowe (girls 1A/2A) and Nathan Lane (boys 1A/2A), Marvin Ridge High’s Sara Maleski (girls 3A) and Timberlake.
She also is playing for Hough’s soccer team again this spring.
“Blair was a top-12 diver in the country when she decided to take up soccer a couple of years ago,” Hintz said. “We are all really excited she chose to pick up diving again and has come back with such success. If she sets her mind to it, she could be back on top (nationally) as soon as this summer.”
The ascension is well underway.