Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer
Niwot sophomore Madison Barkow earned her second consecutive third-place finish on the diving board at the Class 4A state finals.

NIWOT — Madison Barkow just dabbles in diving.

It’s a hobby for the Niwot sophomore, who is a gymnast in the fall and incredibly passionate about soccer in the spring.

But devoting three months out of the year to her hobby has paid off. For the second straight year, the Cougars standout finished third in the Class 4A state meet, and this year for her effort Barkow has earned the Times-Call Swimmer/Diver of the Year honor.

“It was a good year. I improved on may of my dives and I even learned a few new ones,” said Barkow, who finished third behind Mullen seniors Katie Russ and Alex Hafey with 490.05 points. I’m excited to see where my future leads me.”

In a sport that usually rewards the year-round athlete, Barkow is the obvious exception to the rule. And St. Vrain Valley dive coach Shawn Gregg thinks her time might be coming.

“If there is anybody that is going to do it, it is going to be her,” said Gregg, who also coach Skyline’s Megan Oldham to a sixth-place state finish. “The year-round divers will have consistency and since she is really only diving for three months, when state rolls around is when that consistency comes for her.”

Barkow has had an off-and-on love affair with the diving board since she was eight years-old, but over the same stretch of time, she was always a gymnast.

It was that comfort level in the air and understanding her body position that easily translated to the board.

“I have really good air awareness now and I know that if I mess up a dive, I know where I am and I can just move my body where it won’t be as serious,” she said. “I can learn dives and pick them up a lot easier and that has really helped getting me started and to where I am now.”

Gregg, to his credit, is happy to have such a well-rounded athlete amongst his stable of divers and when posed the question about how much he would love to have Barkow year-round, he didn’t balk.

“If I had to choose, I would really like her to be involved in all the other activities,” he said.

But he does cherish the three months that he does have the chance to work with her and is amazed at her skill set.

“She gets a ton of height and she has a ton of power on the diving board and she has that great spacial awareness of where she is in the air. She dives high and close to the board,” said Gregg. “Other divers, they get that close and it scares them. Maddie is not afraid of any of her dives.”

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