Q&A: Taking a Record-Breaking Deep Dive with Commerce Student Kylie Towbin

Kylie Towbin preparing to dive

Third-year student Kylie Towbin broke UVA’s diving record in January at a meet with the University of North Carolina. (Photo by Matt Riley)

An enthusiastic diver since elementary school, Kylie Towbin, a third-year student in the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce, recently made a huge splash when she broke UVA’s diving record.

Towbin broke the record during a meet with the University of North Carolina on Jan. 20, earning 355.05 points in the event on the way to Atlantic Coast Conference Diver of the Week honors.

Originally motivated to compete at the Division I level by a club coach in her hometown of New Canaan, Connecticut, Towbin picked UVA for both its competitive dive program and academics.

Once she arrived in Charlottesville, the Commerce School immediately stood out to her, she said. “It became a goal of mine to get in since my first day on Grounds,” she said.

Three years in, she has excelled in both her studies and her athletic career. We sat down with her recently to hear more about her recent endeavors at the pool and in the Commerce School.

Q. Congratulations on breaking the UVA diving record! Can you speak a bit about how the meet went and how you feel about your accomplishment?

A. Thank you! Looking back on it, I was really proud of how I handled each dive. During competition, it is important for me to stay in the present moment and avoid thinking about past or upcoming dives, and I was able to get into my “zone” and allow my body and mind to work in unison. It was such a fantastic feeling to look at the scoreboard and see all my hard work come to light.

Breaking the record has been a goal of mine for quite some time, and it was really exhilarating to finally do it. My main focus right now is on [the ACC and NCAA championships]; however, I was able to end our dual-meet season on a high note, and I am excited to carry this momentum through the championship season.

Q. Between the Commerce School and diving, what’s your schedule like these days?

A. Juggling school and my diving season definitely keeps my plate full, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. On weekdays, I am usually out of the house by 6:15 a.m. and don’t return until 6:30 p.m., but my busy schedule is what keeps me motivated and on top of my deadlines. I just declared my concentrations in marketing and IT and will be completing the ICE curriculum [the integrated core curriculum of the Commerce School] this semester (shout out to Block 5!).

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In ICE, I truly look up to all my professors and find their combination of teaching skills, business experience and current research projects so inspiring. Specifically, professors Jeffrey Boichuk and Adelaide King have motivated me to pursue my current concentrations and helped me figure out what I am really passionate about. They have been so supportive of my diving commitment, and I am really lucky to have them as professors.

Q. Preparing and executing at meets and in your McIntire coursework must require some serious dedication. Have you noticed any connections between your academics and athletics?

A. There are many similarities between the two. For both McIntire and diving, I try to focus on the long-term goals. Even if I mess up one meet or one test, it is in my control to learn from my mistakes, turn it around and move forward. In order to succeed at competitions and at McIntire, I have had to make sacrifices in other areas of my life and focus on the goals I set for myself.

At McIntire, that means staying in Rouss & Robertson Halls’ study rooms for the majority of the weekend; at diving, it means sacrificing social time for practice, traveling and sleep.

My favorite similarity is that my commitment to the hard work and sacrifices has already paid off, and has created some of my fondest memories.

Q. What exactly do you find most challenging about McIntire, and what do you enjoy most so far?

A. The most challenging aspect when I began at McIntire was learning how to balance a completely new learning style, focused more on teamwork than textbook application, with my busy athletic schedule. Ultimately, the group-focused environment turned out to be the most enjoyable part. I love learning how to manage projects while working on a team.

Q. What are your plans for the future?

A. Currently, I am a member of Bridging the Gap, a Madison House volunteer program that matches students with young refugees in the greater Charlottesville area. Bridging the Gap has led me to grow my passion for mentoring, volunteering and connecting with different cultures. In the future, I hope to combine a career in business management with my passion for global volunteer work.