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Girls swimming: Valparaiso’s Khalela El-Naggar wants to be top in state

Valparaiso's KhalelEl-Naggar dives against Munster Thursday evening Munster High School. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

Valparaiso's Khalela El-Naggar dives against Munster Thursday evening at Munster High School. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 12, 2013 6:20AM



The big stage of the IU Natatorium, on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, is a much different feeling than your typical high school meet, especially, when the state meet is going on.

Electric, loud, and intense are all adjectives that work for the IHSAA tournament finale.

Valparaiso diving standout Khalela El-Naggar knows this setting all too well. In the past two seasons she has made the trek down to Indy. Last season the then-junior finished with her best effort, which was 17th overall during the semifinal round of state. And it was at that appearance where the outside pressures largely sculpted the 273.95 score, which positioned El-Naggar lower than her original top-8 seed.

“It’s a great pool and a great atmosphere … it’s also a bit nerve-racking,” El-Naggar admitted. “ I kind of lost focus and got nervous and didn’t perform as well as I would’ve liked to, but it’s all right.”

The assurance that comes at the end of that thought is largely tied to the solution for this season and another hopeful chance to finish big, holding a more tenacious focus. After all, among the vast list of opponents in Northwest Indiana, few have come close to touching her over the past two seasons. After she grabbed the diving medal at the sectional last season, she stayed undefeated locally with the tightly contested 410.3-394.05 win over runner-up and Duneland Conference rival Charlie Wayne of Crown Point at the Mishawaka Diving Regional.

Remaining as the top diver in NWI is something that humbles El-Naggar.

“I guess it’s just nice that people think about me that way,” she says. “It’s nice that other people see that and recognize that as well.”

Instead of focusing on whether her scores are the winning ones, or if she has to play catch up when another diver stakes a strong tally, 2012’s mental edge is based around just controlling the things that she can.

“You can’t control everything that happens, I’m OK with it now,” she said. “I’m hoping to keep my confidence up for the (state) meet.”

As far as physicality goes, El-Naggar has made tweaks to both her back and reverse dives, switching each to the pike position. And in her repertoire of 11 dives, she relies heavily on the inward 1 and 1½ summersault pike dive (her favorite). Off of her strides, El-Naggar has again remained undefeated. Last week she prevailed in tests against each Crown Point and Munster (where she set the pool record in the relatively new facility in 2011).

“I just want to do well and be proud of what I accomplished,” said the athlete who enjoys the perfectionism in diving and is hoping to medal at state. “If I had the best day of my life, I’ll be satisfied in knowing that I did the best that I can.”

First-year Vikings head diving coach and longtime assistant, Scott Valpatic points to a couple of El-Naggar’s best traits.

“She’s very driven, she’s very internally motivated,” he said before adding. “There’s a difference in sort of a muscle type that you need for diving, she has that kind of quick muscle, they call it a fast-twitch muscle.”



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