Lydon wins, and talks about the art of the dive

Shenendehowa's Nick Lydon won his third sectional diving crown. Peter R.Barber/Gazette PhotographerShenendehowa's Nick Lydon won his third sectional diving crown. Peter R.Barber/Gazette Photographer

Gazette Sportswriter

CLIFTON PARK — The results have varied, but the routine, that’s been pretty much the same since Shenendehowa junior diver Nick Lydon can remember.

“I try to get as excited as I can,” the 16-year-old said. “I’ll jump in the water and cool off. I’ll do some stretches and visualize it. Put my mind on what I want to do, then dive.”

Lydon did that 11 times at the Section II championship meet Thursday in his home pool, and for the third year in a row piled up more points than anyone else in the Division 1 group.

Eleven times he stood on the three-meter board and stared straight ahead, and, following his routine, he saw . . . nothing.

“You zone out,” Lydon said. “You don’t hear anything. You’re looking at the wall, but you don’t see it. You’re extremely focused up there.”

Lydon’s focus got sharper after his first five dives, and in the end, his 607.15 points were good for both pool and school records. On his eighth dive, he scored four 10s to go with a 9.5, just missing perfection.

“It’s a good steppingstone for the states,” Lydon said. “It’s a really good feeling. Three in a row is amazing. I feel kind of lucky. I have an amazing facility and an amazing coach [Dennis Hogan].”

After stepping on the board one last time to get his picture taken with his Shenendehowa teammates, senior Ian Killane and sophomores Yang Foon and Erik Herrero, Lydon stepped off and talked about his performance and seeing the water as he soared toward it. The Flip and Rip Club member said he spotted it well in becoming the first three-time Division 1 champ since Josh Koppel of Shaker (2010-12).

“It depends on how fast you’re going, when you kick,” he said. “Like on the reverse two and a half, I’ll go off the board and see the water once, see the water twice, then kick. I’m tracking the water.”

It was on an easier dive — relatively speaking — that he scored all of those 10s, an inward that was part of his strong semifinal showing.

Lydon stepped to the board and turned his back to the pool, raised his arms in the form of a cross and hesitated momentarily before launching himself and knifing through the water.

“It’s always been my best dive,” he said. “The middle three dives got me excited for the final three dives.”

Lydon was greeted warmly after his efforts by both teammates and foes, and reciprocated after others performed. You’ll see that at these diving meets, lots of clapping, high fives and knuckle bumps.

“We’re all friends. A lot of us are on the same club,” Lydon said. “Of course you want to win, but you want to see the other guys at their best.”

Killane placed third (539.50) behind Niskayuna sophomore Matt Chao (573.00), who set a school record with his point total. Foon (459.25) and Herrero (434.20) placed fourth and fifth, respectively.

“For the divers, it’s all about setting up our swimmers,” Lydon said. “We wanted to do the best we could for them.”

Shenendehowa’s main objective coming into the season was to regain its status as Section II’s top Division 1 team, something Shaker took away the last two years after an eight-year run by the Plainsmen.

“I always feel this sets the tone for the weekend,” Shenendehowa head coach Chuck Dunham said after his four divers scored a combined 65 team points. “These guys got the ball rolling. They got momentum on our side. It was  not only the top guys doing what we were hoping they’d do, but the other guys moving up. It’s one down and two to go.”

Shenendehowa divers have now won five consecutive Division 1 titles, with Killane placing first ahead of Lydon in 2014 and Adam Bonk taking the top spot in 2013.

Senior Matt Parent of Glens Falls won the Division 2 diving title (506.65) after placing second to schoolmate Raislan Aiken last year. Parent was fourth overall among the 33 divers.

Section II swimming preliminaries were Friday, and the championships are Saturday (Division 1 at 3 p.m.; Division 2 at 10 a.m.), both at Shenendehowa.

Shenendehowa athletes are seeded No. 1 in five swimming events including the 200 medley and 200 free relays. Shenendehowa’s Josh Tsai is the only Division 1 individual seeded No. 1 in two events, the 50 and 100 free.

Ryan Board of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake is the lone swimmer seeded No. 1 in two Division 2 events, the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke. Albany Academy, the team runner-up to Glens Falls last year, has five No. 1 seeds.

1. Nick Lydon (Shen), 607.15; 2. Matt Chao (Nisk), 573.00; 3. Ian Killane (Shen), 539.50; 4. Yang Foon (Shen), 459.25; 5. Erik Herrero (Shen), 434.20; 6. Chris Redmond (Beth), 429.80; 7. Jack Karkin (BS), 410.25; 8. Conor Compton (Nisk), 393.55; 9. Bryan Flores (Shak), 361.45; 10. Austin Smith (Shak), 359.30).

1. Matt Parent (GF), 506.65; 2. Alexander Loupessis (AA), 393.40; 3. Tyrae McIntosh (GF), 385.40; 4. Nate Shine (Q), 367.45; 5. Brian Pecor (MS), 349.15; 6. Bobby DiCaprio (AA), 346.85; 7. Jared Lamson (RCS), 338.15; 8. Parker Jordon (Q), 298.05; 9. Hunter Williams (MS), 286.65; 10. Mike Brown (FJ), 254.75.

200 medley relay — Shenendehowa, 1:38.75; 200 free — Clayton Bennice (BS), 1:47.56; 200 IM — Joey Homan (Shen), 1:58.64; 50 free — Josh Tsai (Shen), 22.05; 100 fly — Zac Zwijacz (Sara), 50.71; 100 free — Josh Tsai (Shen), 48.28; 500 free — Ian McElrath (Shak), 4:53.47; 200 free relay — Shenendehowa, 1:29.40; 100 back — Nail Horne (Nisk), 52.50; 100 breast — Steven Yu (Shak), 59.51; 400 free relay — Shaker, 3:15.55.

200 medley relay — Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, 1:40.39; 200 free — Timothy Maggs (CBA), 1:44.07; 200 IM — Ryan Board (BH), 2:00.19; 50 free — Ethan Ballard (Q), 22.04; 100 fly — Tucker Besch (AA), 51.96; 100 free — Kyle Verstandig (AA), 50.13; 500 free — Bryce Henkel (AA), 4:49.25; 200 free relay — Albany Academy, 1:28.98; 100 back — Liam Picozzi (BH), 54.57; 100 breast — Ryan Board (BH), 59.07; 400 free relay — Albany Academy, 3:19.09.

Reach Gazette Sportswriter Jim Schiltz at 395-3143, or @jim_schiltz on Twitter.