Niwot's Fay is the Times-Call swimmer -- well, diver -- of the year

Mar. 16—It's really not meant to be a play on words when Izzy Fay's diving coaches say they saw a different spring in her step this past winter.

The Niwot junior just makes it seem that way.

Soaring off the board higher into the air than ever before, Fay followed her Class 4A bronze finish as a sophomore with one of the all-time highest scores recorded at a state swim and diving meet last month. She's the Longmont Times-Call swimmer/diver of the year.

"I've been around the sport for a long time and she's one of the most naturally gifted divers I've ever worked with," her St. Vrain Valley School District diving coach, Erin Lionberger, said.

Lionberger was an All-American diver at Longmont who went on to have a standout career at Boise State. She coached high school divers elsewhere in the state, then led the program at South Dakota State before returning to the St. Vrain Valley School District a few years ago.

She saw a star in Fay before Fay realized it herself.

"I couldn't have done it without Erin, my coach," Fay told CHSAA immediately after her state win last month. "I honestly didn't think I was going to win, but everyone else believed in me more than I believed in myself."

The two credit much of Fay's literal and figurative ascent to her commitment to lifting weights over the offseason. Getting "four, five feet" into the air as a sophomore, Lionberger said Fay is now up around "eight or nine."

With her newfound power, Fay was able to do dives with a greater degree of difficulty, leading to an 11-dive score of 538.30 at the 4A state meet at the Veterans Memorial Aquatic Center, which was more than 70 points better than her third-place finish as a sophomore (467.80).

"It was astronomical," Lionberger said. "We had to change a couple technical components to her diving after she got so much stronger. But it led to so much better diving."

Fay competes for her school but practices with all the divers from SVVSD. Under district coaches Shawn Gregg and Lionberger, the SVVSD team had three divers finish in the top seven in 4A, including two from Silver Creek.

Leslie Broz took third (483.10) a year after placing second. Savannah Wolf was seventh (445.25). Fay's winning score (538.30), meanwhile, is thought to be one of the top scores ever recorded at a state meet in Colorado, per CHSAA. Mullen's Katie Russ is the 4A meet's record holder, scoring 552.40 in 2015.

"I definitely was surprised. I can't say I wasn't because I do tend to underestimate myself, sometimes" Fay said, looking back on her win this week. "I was shocked, I was surprised, but I also felt a relief go through my body. I thought I deserved it."