By Sara Jhong
For many high school students, much of life consists of the sensation that comes with trying new experiences and stepping out of their comfort zone to try new things. But for Sydney Izakson, a junior diver on the varsity swim and dive team, this exhilaration arises within her everytime she dives. It inspires her to embrace the feeling of the fall and to fall in love with the way she feels in the air.
Izakson started diving her freshman year of high school after having been encouraged by her friends and family to give a new sport a try; she had been a gymnast since she was very young. Initially hesitant to take diving seriously, Izakson quickly learned that diving was not the fun-and-games type of sport that people make it out to be but rather an emotionally and physically strenuous sport requiring a great deal of resolve and dedication.
While there are many similarities between gymnastics and diving, Izakson finds that the biggest difference is n the landing. She said, “As a gymnast, I was trained to land on my feet always. Now, after all these years, I have to land on my head, something I [definitely] did not want to do as a gymnast.” Even as Izakson took on the challenge of switching sports, she says that the thing she loved most about gymnastics also is the thing she loves most about diving: the feeling of flying through the air. A sensation that few people get to experience in their lives, Izakson experiences being airborne daily.
There was no greater demonstration of that passion and commitment than the third meet of the varsity season against Port Washington during which Izakson broke the previous diving record of 235 points with a new score of 242 points for her six dives. She said, “after I had finished my last dive, I knew that it was my best meet of the season.” And after the judges announced the final scores, Izakson smiled ear to ear, surrounded by swimmers and fellow divers celebrating the new record.
But the pretty, polished dives demonstrated at meets are results of hard work and dedication. Izakson saids, “As a serious diver, she practices seven days a week for two hours a day. With school and other extracurricular activities it can be overwhelming.” Izakson decided to take this challenge head-on though, taking challenging classes in school and still making sure she attends two hour practices seven days a week. She says that while many athletes regard their commitments to their sports as time consuming and sacrificial, she looks at hers as an opportunity to improve mentally and physically in everything she does.
Now as the girls varsity swim and dive season is over, Izakson practices on an outside team to make sure that she remains competitive and passionate about her sport. Practicing hard in preparation for her senior season, Izakson is inspired by her record-breaking dives to train harder and aim higher for her last varsity season. In a short amount of time, Izakson has been able to take something she previously never took seriously and turn it into a full-time passion of hers that she dedicates herself to everyday, in the water and out.