3A state swim & dive: Shorewood diver captures state crown

After a heartbreaking runner-up finish last year, Isaac Poole gains redemption with a state title.

FEDERAL WAY — It was sweet redemption for Isaac Poole.

One year after a heartbreaking finish left him just short of a state title for the second consecutive season, the Shorewood senior completed his championship quest in style Saturday night.

Poole executed a superb final dive and captured the Class 3A diving state crown with a 446.65-point performance during the boys swim and dive state championships at King County Aquatic Center.

As he rose to the water’s surface following his final dive, Poole pumped both arms in jubilation and let out a celebratory scream as the crowd cheered on.

“Right when I hit the water, I just started screaming underneath the water,” Poole said. “There was just so much pent-up emotion and frustration about not winning the last two years, and (also) just relief at that moment.

“When I got out of the water and they announced the scores and I knew that I had won,” he added, “I just fell down and I was just lying on the ground. I was so happy.”

After placing 10th in the state as a first-year freshman diver and taking second place as a sophomore, Poole was in position to win the state title last season. Entering the final round, he led Bainbridge’s Kiernan Liberman by 13.35 points.

But Poole didn’t properly complete his final dive, resulting in a zero from every judge. He finished as the state runner-up to Liberman for the second consecutive year.

Yet instead of dwelling on the heartbreak, Poole used it as fuel.

“Last year was definitely a motivator,” he said. “… I don’t want to say that I’m happy I lost last year, but it definitely made an impact on how I trained.

“I really just didn’t want to stand on the second-place podium anymore,” he added. “I was sick of it. I wanted to be on top. I should’ve had it last year, and I was gonna make sure that I got it this year.”

Poole found himself in an almost identical situation Saturday. Entering the final round, he held a 17.15-point lead over second-place Liberman.

This time, the Shorewood star capped his meet in spectacular fashion.

Poole left no doubt with his final dive, garnering 52.8 points on an exquisite front-1.5-full-twist to seal the victory. He finished 39.95 points ahead of Liberman, ending the Bainbridge senior’s two-year reign as state champion.

“I really like ending with (that dive), because it’s a really strong, consistent dive of mine,” Poole said. “And it actually didn’t get really good until this season, so I’m really glad that I could clean it up.

“I was super nervous,” he added. “On the end of the board, I was actually shaking. … (But) I knew that I would be able to just drill that dive every time, no matter what I was thinking.”

Shorewood dive coach Kirsten Schneider said Poole’s ability to execute difficult dives — particularly those with 2.5 rotations — stems from a relentless drive to hone the minute details of his craft.

“Lots of people have talent,” Schneider said, “but few people are as disciplined and as hard-working and willing to (train) every day with such dedication. … That’s what makes him really exceptional.”

Other local 3A medalists

A pair of Marysville divers also reached the state podium. Marysville Pilchuck junior Andrew Kallio took third place (383.85 points) for his second consecutive top-four state medal and Marysville Getchell freshman Eric Davydenko placed sixth (329.30 points).

Lynnwood senior Zachary Bevans earned a third-place medal in the 100-yard butterfly, speeding to a time of 50.08 seconds.

Shorewood senior Cole Nouwens placed sixth in both the 50 freestyle (21.57) and 100 breaststroke (57.78).

Shorewood senior Ryan Reid finished eighth in the 500 freestyle (4:49.82).

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