Though not exactly like riding a bicycle, Melanie Halpin Milone was convinced she could jump back on a diving platform and perform after a 25-year layoff.
Her revived diving career reached new heights last month.
Milone, an Arlington native, and diving partner Gail Heaslip of Connecticut, established a world record while capturing the gold medal in the 50-54 age division of the 3-meter synchronized diving competition at the World Masters Championship in Montreal.
The diving tandem collected a score of 179.40 from a panel of nine judges at the Aquatic Complex at Montreal Parc Jean Drapeau on Aug. 9.
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Winning was reward enough, of course, but the record “was gravy on top of that,” said Milone, who competed in high school at Arlington High and collegiately at Texas Tech in the early 1980s.
“I don’t do all the things I used to do,” Milone said. “It messes with your mind a little bit … I shouldn’t be doing this.”
The world record actually broke a personal mark Milone and a partner set at the Pam Am Games in Largo, Fla., in 2013.
Apparently a tough critic of herself, Milone said she considered the first only a minor feat because of a lack of depth in the competition.
There could be no such self-criticism at the World Masters, which assembled one of the deepest fields at this level of competition.
“I set it then” in 2013, Milone said of the record, “but it didn’t count. This is the first time I’ve ever set a record at this level.”
Being in different time zones, Milone and Heaslip don’t practice together.
They’re both able to practice individually the dives they planned to perform together. Milone also had tape of Heaslip making the dives, allowing her to mirror her partner’s steps.
“Diving is very mental,” said Milone. “You picture it all in your head. There are a lot of mental exercises.”
Both competed in other events Tuesday and Wednesday, and Heaslip had another on Thursday. So, the only day they actually had a chance to compete together was Friday, one day before the competition.
They also were able to “practice” just by merely walking on the sidewalks in Montreal, synchronizing their steps as if they were on a platform.
Milone’s diving workout regimen in the summer includes two or three days a week at the pool in the summer and another day inside at the natatorium at SMU or perhaps another at Southlake Carroll or a facility at Grapevine/Colleyville.
It was at a meet eight years ago as a spectator that her interest was piqued in a return to diving.
Someone suggested that Milone, too, should still be diving.
It’s been a rewarding midlife discovery.
She’ll be back next spring to begin another season, and why not?
She enjoys the diving. And what’s not fun about winning gold medals and setting world records?