Making a Splash

Team USA member Ellie Joyce’s diving journey


Ellie Joyce

Joyce completes a dive in front of a panel of judges. In December, Joyce competed in the Junior World Championships.

Splash! Senior Ellie Joyce hits the pool’s surface, having just won a gold medal in the mixed team event at the Junior World Championship. Joyce began springboard diving at age seven and practices for over 25 hours a week with her competitive team. Joyce realized her passion for the sport in middle school. 


“I was diving for five or six years before I realized that I wanted to do it in college,” Joyce said. “[I was encouraged] by my coaches who saw potential in me and told me that I could be good… and so I just stuck with it.


However, Joyce’s passion extended beyond her potential to succeed in the sport. 


 I [also] really thought it was fun, and a lot of my friends … didn’t really enjoy their sports,” Joyce said. “[Some] were just doing it because their parents were making them, [but] I actually enjoyed going to practice and being there.”


Joyce’s favorite aspect of diving is the community. 


“The best part of dive is my teammates and the friends that I’ve made,” Joyce said. “I feel like I see them more than I see my own parents. It’s really just a nice community, and no matter how good or bad practices are, they’re always there as a constant.” 


Joyce’s time was recently consumed by preparing for the world championship, where she secured a spot after placing second at Nationals. 


“I [got] to represent Team USA at the world championships …, which is my greatest accomplishment,” Joyce said. “I [left] November 22 and [came] back on December 5. [I’ve trained] really hard for it…, when I [got] to the meet, I [still had] a week and half before I compete[d].”  


As a student, Joyce must balance schoolwork with her diving. 


“I try to do a lot of work at school when I can,” Joyce said. “I have a sixth and seventh-period flex, and I’m in the pool from 2 until 3:30 every day. Then, we go to the gym where we have trampolines…, mats, and [other] equipment. [Practice ends] anywhere from 5 to 6:30…, [but] if I have a lot more work [than usual], I can leave a little earlier. My coaches are pretty flexible…. They understand that diving is not my whole world. It is, but it’s not the only thing that matters.” 


Next fall, Joyce will continue her academic and athletic career at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (UNC), which she attributes to the aid of her coaches.


“I was very fortunate in the fact that my coach helped me a lot [with the college recruitment process],” Joyce said. “She recommended me to coaches, and so I didn’t have to reach out to any coach. Anyone that I was going to look at or consider committing to reached out to me, which I was very lucky to have as an opportunity…. When I went on my recruiting visits, I just felt like when I left UNC, I was jealous that everyone else got to stay and I had to leave, and I had always wanted to go there.”


While Joyce missed the first few weeks of the school’s diving season while competing at the Junior World Championships, she looks forward to the remainder of the season. 


“We have a lot of seniors this year, so it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Joyce said. “I hope to go to Districts, Regionals, and States. I got COVID last year before States, which was really upsetting.” 


Due to its positive environment, Joyce recommends anyone interested to join the team. 


“I wish more people understood how fun [dive team] is,” Joyce said. “We’re combined with the swim team so we’re a really, really big team. The coaches work really hard to unite us — they watch us dive, and we watch them swim.”


Joyce has also set goals for herself in the future. 


“Things change, but going to the Olympics has always been one of my biggest goals,” Joyce said. “I would like to at least go to the Olympic trials in 2024. In 2028, which is a year after I graduate college, I’d like to stay diving for that one last year to [try to] go to worlds again. I’ve also always wanted to be an NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) finalist.”  


Joyce’s advice for younger divers was this: 


“Don’t skip things in your workouts,” Joyce said. “[In the past], if I was ever scared of anything, I would just try to skip it and go take a shower. That’s really hurt me now, because there are fundamental skills I don’t have because I would always skip them because I was afraid. Being afraid is a part of diving, and so if you’re not going to do something because you’re scared, you’re not going to get anything done.”


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