EAST LANSING – As a youngster, Mary Phillips disliked swimming. But she enjoyed being in the water.
About eight years ago, Phillips, who is now a freshman at East Lansing High School, witnessed diving for the first time. She’s been hooked ever since.
“I saw diving, and I didn’t like swimming that much,” she said. “I asked my mom if I could try that sport. And then I started diving.
“The Okemos coach saw me diving and, after that, he was my coach. I’ve had different coaches (throughout the years).”
And with a year at the varsity level under her belt, it seems like Phillips made the right choice. The freshman won the 1-meter diving title at the CAAC Blue conference meet this season and placed 14th at the Division 2 state finals.
She has been named the LSJ girls diver of the year.
“I didn’t think I was going to do as well as I did (this year),” said Phillips, who was the only freshman diver competing at the state meet. “I was surprised, and I think so were my coaches.”
It was at the conference meet that Phillips started to realize her potential. Her score of 471.65 was the best time at the event, which is something that surprised her as much as winning. Phillips was three points away from setting a new pool record at Haslett High School.
“She’s put herself on the map around the Lansing area,” East Lansing diving coach Tom Kuhlman said. “She’s pretty special. She’s downright good, and she’s getting better all the time.”
Phillips led an inexperienced diving group for the Trojans — one that consists only of freshmen and sophomores. As the season went on, Phillips could see the improvements from top to bottom, and said she believes her unit will be a consistent threat in the area for years to come.
“We went to two practices a day, every day,” Phillips said. “We tried our hardest to be one of the best teams in the area, and I thought we were. We’re planning on doing it for all four years.”