By Brian Kapur; CURRENT NEWSPAPERS
As National Cathedral diver Dorothy Shapiro stood at the top of the board for her final jump of the Independent School League championship meet on Wednesday afternoon, the freshman wasn’t nervous.
She was ready to fly. “Since I’ve had so many years of doing the sport and been in a lot of competitions, at this point I’ve done it so many times I just like to have fun with it,” said Shapiro, who has worked on the skill for nine years.
“I had this feeling that if I could do that last dive well enough I might come away with the win. I just had to clear my head and do what I had to do.”
The freshman hit her final dive — a backflip with one-and-a-half twists — and splashed into the pool. After a few seconds of anxious waiting, the young diver heard the announcer bellow out the results: She had captured the ISL diving championship.
“It felt really good,” said Shapiro. “Since I have been doing it for so long, it was the first time that I was doing it for school, so it was a really fun experience to get recognized in my school community.”
Shapiro heard a lot of cheering from her fellow Eagles at the meet. “Everyone was really supportive,” she said. “They all came to watch. … The whole swim team was really nice about it.
Everyone was really happy.” As a team Cathedral finished in fifth place at the ISL swimming and diving competition.
The Eagles’ other medalists were their 200-yard medley relay team of senior Erin Bell, sophomore Lester Page, sophomore Tori Griffin and freshman Ashleigh Lackey, who together grabbed bronze.
But the star of the day was Shapiro, who comes to diving with a background in gymnastics.
“There’s some overlap with gymnastics,” said Shapiro. “I did it when I was younger until I was 10 years old. At one point I was doing both at the same time, but I liked diving more and I prioritized it more.
That background definitely helped me.” With diving as her sole athletic focus in recent years, Shapiro has participated in the Montgomery Dive Club, where she practices for several hours each day after school.
Shapiro also credits the support from Cathedral coach Raegan Conlin for her development in the pool.
“It’s my first time working with [Cathedral’s upper school coaches] since it’s my freshman year,” said Shapiro, who has attended the Northwest school since fourth grade. “It’s been great to work with Coach Conlin this year.”
The freshman won’t have a chance to revel in her win for too long. The competition will be tougher this week — assuming there isn’t a snow-related delay — when the Eagles compete in the Washington Metropolitan Prep School Swim and Dive League championship at Stone Ridge on Jan. 28.
A Week later is the tough Metros meet, which is the final one of the season.
“They’re all right after each other. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to compete. I’m not really expecting anything,” said Shapiro. “I just want to go out and have a good time. There isn’t going to be a lot of practice time, but hopefully I’ll have a few before. We’ll see.”
At last week’s ISL meet, Cathedral was the only Northwest team to have a competitor win gold. But Sidwell, which finished in ninth place in the 13-team meet, saw medals from senior Taylor Knibb, who grabbed bronze in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle events.