When her season began, the Nassau diving record must have looked as if it was some distant mountain to Herricks' Nicole Honey. Though she was in her senior year, trained with the best club team on the Island and certainly had the talent to pull it off, Honey didn't have a diving score in the same ZIP code as the 20-year old record she had set out to beat.
Last night at the Nassau Aquatics Center at Eisenhower Park, Honey found herself atop that mountain.
With a final score of 543.10, Honey won the Nassau diving championship and surpassed the county record of 505.35 set by Wantagh's Donna Sapporito in 1990.
Lauren Cecco (Hicksville), who already qualified for states, finished second with a score of 461.70. Emma Haris (Long Beach) took third with a 427.25 and qualified for states at the meet. Gabrielle Signorell (Massapequa) took fourth with a state-qualifying 420.20.
Divers must score at least 396 points to qualify for the state meet.
Honey scored more than 52 points five times and never scored below a 39.20. She was on pace to surpass the record after her second dive of the evening, on which she scored a 57.60, her high water mark at the meet. She led all divers in total points from her first dive and wowed the judges with flawless spins and near-splashless finishes.
Coming into the 2010 season, Honey had a career high of 431.95 at 11-dive meets, set at the 2009 Nassau championships. She scored a 469.95 at the Division-A championships this year, which she won, qualifying her for the state championships.
Her club coach at Long Island diving, George Taylor III, said that even though Honey qualified for states coming into the meet, none of the pressure had been removed.
"It's not easier. Counties are never easy," he said. "Here she's got to focus more on the mental aspects. The overall record is great, but this is the big thing: to be a county champion."
Taylor said Honey had not changed her routine at all from Divisions, and that the difference between a great score she got there and a record-breaking score would be her state of mind. "We want her to have fun, stay loose and just go after her dives," he said.
Honey went into her final dive needing less than 20 points for the record books. "Just focus," Taylor pleaded with her as she stepped to the edge of the diving board. Honey just smiled.
She flipped, spun and barely splashed as the crowd cheered. The score came in 56.40. The record was hers.
"I was a little nervous at first, but I knew I only needed 19 points. I just had to do it. It was better if it was good, but I just needed to get it in. Turned out being good anyhow."