It was age seven when Ellie Joyce was introduced to the sport of diving as she begged permission from her mom to attempt some kind of flip right from the start.
Her mother denied that request at first, eventually relented, so the young Joyce flipped and flopped on her initial effort.
“I don’t remember much about it, but knowing me, my first flip was probably pretty bad,” Joyce said. “I just wanted to dive because it looked so fun.”
Joyce quickly and significantly improved her flips and overall skills, which on Feb. 10 earned the Washington-Liberty High School sophomore the Virginia High School League Class 6 girls state diving championship. Her winning 11-dive total was a 478.95 score, just short of the state record of 483.3, set in 2003 by four-time state champion Mary Yarrison of then Robert E. Lee High School in Springfield.
Elisabeth Rockefeller of Lake Braddock finished second in the state with a 448.05 total and Oakton’s Maddie Reese third (443.3).
Joyce is the first female diver from W-L to win a state title, an achievement she calls one of the biggest of her career.
“I knew I had the potential and the chance to become a state champion,” said Joyce, who trains and competes year round for the Dominion Dive Club, and during the summer for Dominion Hills pool of the Northern Virginia Swimming League.
It was at Dominion Hills where Joyce began her diving career and attempted that first flip.
“It’s a pretty big deal and was a lot of fun to win the state,” she said. “Maybe this can help with where I go to college to dive.”
Joyce was not a surprise state winner. She burst upon the high-school scene by placing fifth (416.10 score) in the state last season as a freshman. Prior to this year’s state competition, Joyce won the National District meet with a 431.05 score, then finished first in the 6D North Region championships with a 470.5 total.
She also holds the W-L school record for girls diving. Joyce was the only female high-school diver from an Arlington school who participated in this season’s state meet.
Joyce also has become a standout diver for her club team, as well as during the summer for Dominion Hills.
NOTE: Joyce is the first female diver from an Arlington school to win a state title since Yorktown High’s Maren Taylor won three straight championships from 2007 to 2009, her senior season with a 478.5 total. Taylor was a standout diver in college at the University of Texas.
PHOTO: Washington-Liberty High School’s Ellie Joyce performs one of her dives during the state meet. (Photo by Meredith Rockefeller)