A rising senior at Olympia High School, Makayla Robillard has loved diving since she started at age 7. Recently, Makayla, 17, placed first at the 2015 YMCA Diving Nationals in the 1-meter, 3-meter and platform (10-meter) events for her age group. Placing first pre-qualified the West Orange County youth, who dives for YCF Diving in addition to her time diving for the Titans, for the USA Diving Junior Nationals later this summer.
You took first place in three events. Was that your expectation going into competition?
Yeah — I wanted to win all three events because if you win YMCA Nationals you prequalify to Junior Nationals later on. I wanted to get that pressure off my back.
Do you get nervous before you do a big dive at a national competition?
Kind of, but, as my coach (Mark Ruiz) says, “Take one dive at a time, and if you mess up on a dive, just forget about it and move on.”
How did you get past the fear of diving from the 10-meter platform?
I have a very big fear of heights. Basically, the first dive is always the hardest, and then the second dive after that, you’ve done it the first time, and it’s not as hard to go again. You think, “OK, I just did this dive for the first time, and it was OK — I just need to do it again.” You have the fear of hitting the water the wrong way because you have the potential of hurting yourself badly, so basically I just have to trust my coach.
With school ending, are you excited about the summer?
I’m very excited for the summer because I’m basically spending it here with my team the whole summer. Throughout the summer it’s just a lot of team bonding.
You obviously did well as an individual — but your whole team did well, too. How proud does that make you?
I’m so proud of my team, especially my teammate Victoria Moretti — she’s diving with an injured back, and she managed to come in second.
How do you like to spend your downtime?
On the weekends, my dad and I either go to Disney or SeaWorld.
What’s a fun fact about you that people wouldn’t expect to hear?
I am a huge Marvel nerd. My favorite Marvel hero is Thor.
What are your long-term goals within the sport?
My goal is to qualify for the Olympic Trials — that’s my long-term goal. Even further, I’ll be going into college soon, so I want to become an NCAA Division I champion.
Playing a water sport, I’m sure you burn lots of calories. What’s your go-to snack after training?
It depends, because my dad makes really good food. I love my dad’s cooking. But my favorite meal would be Chipotle — I get a burrito bowl with steak and cheese. I just love Chipotle.
Which of the three events that you placed first in is your favorite?
My favorite, even though it’s scariest to me, is platform (10 meters). When I’m up there, I’m terrified to death — but I also love it at the same time, because after you do a dive and you do it well, you just get this adrenaline rush.
For someone unfamiliar, how do you get better at diving?
We do a lot of strength training. I do a lot of arms because I have an elbow injury. … We do a lot of ab workouts; we do a lot of running. My coach prepares us to get us into the right body type with strong legs and arms. The rest of it is mental.
So what’s the game plan between now and Junior Nationals?
Nationals starts Aug. 1. Basically, my coach has us on a certain weight program and he just takes us step-by-step throughout the whole time.
What’s the training regimen like for you?
I’m here from right after school, or at about 2:30 p.m., and I’m usually not out of here until 6 p.m.
Do you play any other sports?
Just diving — I’ve been doing it since I was 7 (years old).
How did you decide to get into diving at such a young age?
Before diving, I was a gymnast for a little bit. I loved the water. You could never get me out of the water, and my gymnastics coach was like, “You love flipping, you love the water — why don’t you try diving?”