Pictured, left to right: Mount Vernon dive coach Bryan Bahr along with state dive competitors Miah Fisher, Hailey Fisher and Nathan Holt.
Mount Vernon senior Hailey Fisher finished her high school diving career the same way she started it: By winning a state championship.
Fisher took home first place in the Virginia 6A state championship meet last Friday, scoring 434.25 in the one-meter dive competition to earn her third state title in four years. The victory capped an extraordinary high school career that also included state wins her freshman and sophomore years, four consecutive district championships, four consecutive region championships and two selections as an All-American — with a third likely on the way.
In fact, every single dive meet that Fisher competed in as a Major, she finished in first place, according to Mount Vernon head coach Bryan Bahr.
The only thing that kept Fisher from competing for a fourth state title her junior year was a foot injury that required surgery after the regional competition. The surgery, in which a doctor shaved down extra bone on the inside of her left foot, required three months of rehab before Fisher could begin diving again.
“She really kicked it up a notch [this year],” Bahr said, praising Fisher’s determination while returning from injury. “I’m super proud of the hard work that she’s put in.”
Being laid up and missing states was a new experience for Fisher. Her mother says it helped give her a new appreciation for a sport that, even though she excelled at it, could wear on the high schooler at times.
“She really found out what it was like to miss what she loved doing,” Linda Fisher said. “After two weeks of staying in bed, not being able to walk. … she was done with it.”
Hailey Fisher said she learned a lot about herself during the ordeal, and the time away from the diving helped reshape her approach to the sport.
“Not being able to practice with my friends, I did gain a different perspective,” Fisher said. “I no longer saw diving as a chore, I saw diving as my escape, somewhere I could excel at something I love.”
Despite not being at full strength Fisher was still able to compete at the USA National Dive preliminaries and championships in June 2017.
A diving family
Fisher was joined on the winners’ platform at this year’s Virginia 6A meet by younger sister Miah, a freshman who finished in third place. The Fisher sisters have competed together for many years as members of the Alexandria Dive Club, so diving together at the state championship felt natural, Hailey Fisher said.
“Having my sister on the team was pretty normal because she’s also on my club team,” Hailey Fisher said. “[Miah] did very well and competed her best and I’m proud.”
Miah and Hailey Fisher (Courtesy of Linda Fisher)
The Fisher sisters have been coached on the club level by their father Tim, who founded the Alexandria Dive Club in 2008. Tim Fisher is a decorated diver in his own right, competing collegiately for Ball State University.
Another Fisher will also be soon be joining the Majors dive team. Jacob Fisher, and 8th grader, is already an accomplished diver and will join older sister Miah on the Mount Vernon squad next season.
While diving is Hailey Fisher’s main focus, it’s not the only sport she excels in. She has also done varsity gymnastics for four years for the Majors, where her mother — who is also a Mount Vernon graduate — serves at the coach.
Living with two coaches has worn off on Fisher. Bahr, Fisher’s coach at Mount Vernon, said Hailey came into her own as a leader on the Majors’ team, both by working with her teammates and setting an example for how to approach practice and competitions.
“She’s a good teacher, she leads by example,” Bahr said.
Bahr, who graduated from Mount Vernon in 2008 and won a state diving title that same year, said Fisher’s success has drawn more kids to the Majors’ program, which is typically one of the smaller teams in the area.
“We’ve had more people come out and try diving than in a long time,” Bahr said, adding that Fisher’s upbeat personality and relaxed approach help set the tone for others. “[Diving] is a sport where you can get better at while having fun, and she’s an example of what you can achieve by having a fun environment.”
The boys team at Mount Vernon also boasts a two-time state finalist, with junior Nathan Holt coming in fourth in the 6A competition last week. Holt, who also competes at the club level for the Alexandria Dive Club, has continued to improve throughout his time at Mount Vernon, Bahr said.
“He’s awesome,” Bahr said, noting that Holt broke Bahr’s own school record earlier this season and improved on a 6th-place finish at states last year. “He’s certainly risen with the level of competition.”
As for Hailey Fisher, her diving career will continue next year for North Carolina State University. She was recruited by a number of schools — including Virginia Tech, James Madison, Florida State and University of North Carolina Wilmington — but in the end the Wolfpack program impressed her the most.
“I was drawn to N.C. State because of the wonderful program, the dive coach, the swim and dive team and all the support for the student athletes,” Fisher said.