Freshman McCoy Lyman makes Grady diving history


Courtesy of McCoy Lyman

Freshman McCoy Lyman is shown here after placing in the 2019 USA Diving Junior Region 3 Championships.

Cole Parker

After winning the Marist Early Bird Diving Invitational, freshman McCoy Lyman became the first ninth grade diver in Grady history to qualify for the Georgia High School Association Swimming & Diving State Championship, which will take place on Feb. 6-8 at the McAuley Aquatic Center.

Surprisingly, Lyman has not always been a diver.

“I was a gymnast up until I was probably 12 years old, and then I just got tired, to be honest,” Lyman said. “After that, my parents told me that a lot of burnt-out gymnasts try diving because it is a little bit less stressful.”

Lyman’s gymnastics background aided him in the early stages of his diving career.

“It definitely helped a lot because I already had some air awareness,” Lyman said. “I had done a lot of flips and twists before in gymnastics. All I really had to learn was how to flip onto my hands instead of my feet.”

A difference between diving and other sports is the amount of focus required, Lyman said.

“It’s extremely technical; there’s a lot to think about in a short amount of time,” Lyman said. “You have to think it all out in your head beforehand, and then you just have to act it out perfectly, or it’s not going to go well at all.”

That mental process has made it invaluable for Lyman to keep his nerves in check when he is competing.

“I definitely try to calm myself down before diving,” Lyman said. “I’ll sit down, close my eyes, and just think through how the dive is going to go in my head.”

Lyman’s teammates also help lower the pressure at dive meets.

“If you are not with your team, then it’s hard to focus on your dives because you can stress a lot about them, which freaks you out,” Lyman said.

In addition to helping him have fun, McCoy’s teammates are a great source of encouragement.

“My motivation is my teammates,” Lyman said. “I see them improving every day, which makes me want to improve, too. If they improve and I just stay where I am, then I’m going to get left behind.”

Head dive coach Jing Leung admires Lyman’s positive attitude.

“He is creative and has fun with it,” Leung said. “I like how he lives in the moment and always gives it his best shot.”

Lyman’s ability to maintain absolute control over his body when he is in the air has allowed him to excel in diving.

“I have good air awareness, which helps because if I mess something up in a dive, then I can quickly figure out where I am and fix what went wrong,” Lyman said.

In the long run, Lyman hopes that diving will allow him to stand out with colleges.

“Diving is going to be a great way to help get me into a school that I would like to go to because, obviously, there are a lot of smart kids in the world,” Lyman said. “Colleges aren’t just looking for smart kids — there’s too many of those. They want something special, and I think diving is definitely something that is a little bit out of the ordinary.”

At the end of the day, Lyman is humbled by making Grady diving history.

“It’s really exciting; I’m glad that I get to represent my school in a positive way,” Lyman said. “It kind of makes me feel special.”