This season has been quite successful for Valparaiso junior diver Khalela El-Naggar, but she's not standing pat when it comes to Saturday's Duneland Athletic Conference meet.
The defending champion will break out a new dive -- a 2 1/2 somersault in the tuck position (2.4 degree of difficulty) -- at Chesterton.
"She had a solid list of dives," Valparaiso coach Bill Chappo said. "We just want to be a little more aggressive."
"I don't mind adding new dives to my list," El-Naggar added. "It's been kind of iffy (in practice), but it's still not too bad of a concern."
El-Naggar, a state qualifier last season, is unbeaten so far in competition this year. At last week's Highland Invitational, she rallied to edge Crown Point's Charlie Wayne by a 1/4 a point.
"It was a terrible meet for me," El-Naggar said. "I was a little scared to only win by a quarter point. It was a still a big win for me, because I wasn't at my best -- and I still won."
Despite the unblemished record, El-Naggar said she has been bothered by back problems this season.
"I've gone to a chiropractor, and he said I might have had a previous fracture that didn't heal correctly," she said. "I think I might have pulled a muscle."
El-Naggar has persevered through the pain and continued to excel in the well.
"I've just tried to endure (through the pain)," El-Naggar said. "I'm not really lessening the work just because I have pain. I'm still giving it my all, because I don't want to use anything as an excuse. Nothing's holding me back."
A different team atmosphere hasn't hampered El-Naggar either. Best friend Amanda Sorensen transferred to another school this year. Senior Jacquelyn Kracich decided to not come out for the team this season, making El-Naggar the lone returning face on the roster. El-Naggar now serves as a mentor to freshman diver Taylor McBride.
"I've learned to be more focused this season, because some of the silliness is now gone," El-Naggar said. "I have to lead now, and I'm there to give Taylor tips and show her the ropes.
"I also have to push myself, because Taylor is getting much better."
El-Naggar said her dream is to dive in college, and her continued progression in the well could make that a reality.
"I'm able to block everything out, of course," she said. "I don't think about the pain, because I can deal with it afterward.
"I've been able to be more consistent with my dives. That's been big for me this season, and it's allowed me to keep on winning."