What happens next is a precisely choreographed struggle against gravity that is both violent and graceful.
The five-foot-four senior flips forward one-and-a-half times while simultaneously twisting her body for two full rotations. Before you can even begin to appreciate what is happening, Corbett darts into the water like a bullet, leaving only a gentle ripple behind.
Itâ€™s called a one and a half double twist (naturally) and Corbettâ€™s ability to consistently nail it is one reason she will enter the 2012 Pannell Swim Shop/KHSAA State Swimming and Diving Championships as the top seed in girlsâ€™ diving.
The meet takes place Feb. 23-25 at the University of Louisvilleâ€™s Ralph Wright Natatorium.
Corbett punched her ticket on Feb. 7 by winning a third consecutive Region Two title.
While her score of 548.25 was the highest in regional meet historyâ€”breaking a 20-year-old record set by Beth Leake of Brown in 1992â€”Corbett admits that judgesâ€™ totals have never been her foremost concern.
She even has a quirky habit of plugging her ears after dives to muffle the public-address announcement of her marks.
â€œI donâ€™t listen to any of the scores,â€ Corbett said. â€œIt helps me a lot. Iâ€™d rather just be happy with my dives in the meet and then see how everyone else did (afterward).â€
For 10 years now Corbettâ€™s strategy of blissful scoring ignorance has worked wonders.
The three-time All-American began diving at the age of 8 and now competes year-round with Cardinal Dive Club. Last summer Corbett qualified for USA Diving Junior Nationals in all three disciplines (1-meter, 3-meter and platform), finishing ninth overall in platform.
A 4.0 student in Sacred Heartâ€™s International Baccalaureate program, Corbett was highly recruited and took official visits to UCLA, Harvard, Georgia, Florida and Virginia before signing with the Cavaliers in November.
The womenâ€™s swimming and diving program at UVA is currently the highest-ranked (No. 11) among ACC schools in the College Swimming Coaches Association of America poll.
For Corbett a typical training session begins with 30 minutes of dry-land workouts that often include plyometrics and core strengthening exercises. Then itâ€™s to the board, where she runs through her 11-dive repertoire at least three times.
Unlike some divers, Corbett has no background in dance or gymnastics.
She blames her older sister, Mary Beth, for that.
â€œI took a couple of ballet classes when I was younger, but then my sister got us kicked out,â€ said Corbett with a laugh. â€œShe got in a fight with one of the girls there and slapped her or something. Sheâ€™s crazy.â€
Now a senior at Stanford, Mary Beth enjoyed a standout career of her own as a diverâ€”first at Sacred Heart, then for two years in Palo Alto before a knee injury ended her career.
A third Corbett, Daniel, played basketball at Trinity and is now a sophomore point guard at Johns Hopkins. The D-III Blue Jays are 14-9 this year and Daniel is averaging 8 points a game while leading the team in both assists and steals.
Becca Corbett is hoping she can relay good news to her far-flung siblings after the state meet.
The Valkyries are two-time defending team state champions and advanced following a narrow defeat (338 to 337.5) to a fast Manual squad at the regional meet. Corbett swims for the team as well and is a state qualifier in the 50-yard freestyle.
â€œTo be able to do both at this level is a real testament to her athleticism,â€ said Sacred Heart coach Jim Luebbe. â€œSheâ€™s pretty important for us (as a team).â€
After finishing third in diving her first three seasons, Corbett is looking to go out on top. Competing from the same dive list for the past two years may help.
â€œIâ€™m really comfortable with my dives,â€ said Corbett. â€œIt just really depends on the day and all of the judging and stuff.â€
Standing in her way is a familiar foe. Lafayetteâ€™s Rebecca Hamperian took first in 2010 and 2011 and is the No. 2 seed after winning the Region Five meet with a score of 500.80.
â€œWeâ€™re good friends,â€ said Corbett. â€œâ€¦but when we get to the meets weâ€™re always butting heads.â€
Contact columnist Chris Cahill at email@example.com.