Payton Props: The art of diving
Payton Props grew up twisting and flipping around, but she used to land on two feet. Now, she dives in head first.
"It just felt so clean and different," the former gymnast, turned state champion diver said.
Props gave up gymnastics when she was in eighth grade after a high school diver she looked up to said she had a lot of potential.
"Hearing it from a high school diver just changed my world for some reason," she remembered.
Since then, Props has heard she has the "it" factor, many times.
"Not every one has that. You can learn a lot of dives and be really strong and learn a lot of really difficult things, but making them look beautiful and easy at the same time, is an art," her coach, Penny Dipomazio said.
According to Dipomazio, who has coached the diving team at Lubbock ISD for 27 years, Props dives have a high degree of difficulty. That makes is harder to make it look so effortless.
After winning two state titles, Props said her success is rooted in perfecting the basics.
"Probably the most important part is the hurdle," she said. "Because if you don't have a good hurdle, you can't get the height and if you can't get the height then you can't get the entry.
"Her presence on the board and her line in the water, she can get in really clean and she can do really hard dives, yet, look graceful doing them," Dipomazio stressed.
Part of the reason Props hasn't looked back from choosing diving over gymnastics is because of the fear factor in diving.
"It's just me and I control it. If I mess up, then I mess up and if I do great then it's me and I do great," Props explained.
Dipomazio isn't the only coach who has seen the "it" factor in Props. Several coaches with close ties to the U.S. Diving team have reached out to let Props know she has potential. After she graduates from Lubbock High, Props will continue her diving career at Texas A&M.