Feb. 19, 2014
The swimming and diving team will begin competition in its first-ever Patriot League Championships today in Annapolis. The four-day meet will be held at Navy's Lejeune Hall and will conclude on Saturday. Watch all the action for free on the Patriot League Network.
By Brendan Hyland
When Elle Mixa found out she qualified for the NCAA Zone Diving Championships, the first call she made was to her mother.
“My mom was the first person I called,” Mixa said smiling. “She knew how important it was to me to qualify. I have been working towards it since I got to Loyola.”
Coming out of St. Petersburg Catholic in St. Petersburg Beach, Fla., Mixa knew she wanted to go to a smaller school, thinking it would be most beneficial for her development as both a diver and a person.
“I thought I would fit better into a smaller school,” Mixa said. “When I came to visit Loyola, it just felt like a good fit both academically and athletically. I thought the facilities would make it a great place to dive at, too.”
Few can argue that Loyola has been anything but good for Mixa. This season she has taken the Patriot League by storm, winning Patriot League Female Diver of the Week honors four times, more than any other swimmer or diver in the entire league.
In addition, Mixa broke the school record in the 1-meter dive on January 18 after posting a 266.92 in a dual meet at Lehigh. All told, Mixa has swept the 1 and 3-meter diving events in five of eight meets this season. Confidence from her coach is one thing that she points to as a main reason for the success.
“My coach [Loyola diving coach Jeanne Ball] has really pushed me to believe in myself and have confidence in myself,” Mixa said. “I feel like since she came here, my junior year, I’ve really improved a lot and have more confidence in my ability to reach the goals I’ve set for myself.”
Ball cited Mixa’s fourth place at the 2013 MAAC Championships as the biggest stepping-stone in building her confidence.
“When Elle finished fourth on both boards at last year’s championship, I think she realized that she could’ve been on that podium in the top three,” Ball said. “I personally think that is where it all clicked for her.”
Mixa admits qualifying for Zone’s was a goal of hers and that it is something she’s proud of accomplishing, especially in her final year.
“I feel very honored to be the first diver in Loyola history to qualify for the NCAA Zone Championships,” Mixa said. “It is something I have been working towards all four years here, so I feel like I accomplished a big goal of mine.
“I had a different mindset this year too, because I knew it would be my last chance. I kept working hard and kept a positive attitude and outlook on everything. I had been close to qualifying in the past, so I knew it was an attainable goal.”
Ball agrees that this mindset has helped Elle attain the results that she has been wanting.
“Last year, Elle was adjusting to me as a new coach and a new style of coaching and teaching,” Ball explained. “It’s hard to fully trust a new coach in the first year as you’re adjusting to them. But this year, she’s fully adjusted and has worked extremely hard and been very diligent in her approach, and it has paid off.”
The two agree that focusing more on the day-to-day work has also paid dividends in the progression of Mixa’s success.
“When we go into a meet, she turns it on,” Ball stated. “She’ll practice great and be ready to go, and then she’ll drop the best dive I’ve seen from her all month in a meet.
“I believe you are what you practice though. If you practice competing well, then you’ll compete well. In the past, that hasn’t always been Elle’s experience. So I think that change is something that she’s tried doing more of, and I think it has really paid off.”
“Our workouts this year are definitely different,” Mixa said. “I’ve focused more on the things that need to be improved. In the past, we would just do a lot of dives, but this year, we’ve focused on things that need to be improved. I think that day-to-day preparation has been a big part of my success and improvement this season. It has given me more confidence on the boards.