Diving requires the jumping and twisting of gymnastics, the dedication of running and the concentration of golf. But a diver will never work up a sweat.

The hours of daily practice, of perfecting dives and learning new ones, is only preparation for the few seconds it takes to perform in a meet.

Although in practice a dive may may be repeated over and over, in competition there is only one chance to impress judges and spectators with a dive.

The diving trophy in the Northern Virginia Swim League has gone to only two teams in the past several years.

Highland Park regained its first-place title this summer after losing it to Cardinal Hill for two consecutive years. Before 1984, Highland Park divers had won three straight titles.

The strengths of both teams, of course, lie in the individuals.

For Highland Park, perhaps its greatest strength was 14-year-old Mac McDermott of Alexandria. McDermott participated in the 1985 national diving championships in Lincoln, Neb., finishing in the top 10 in the three intermediate events: three-meter and one-meter boards and the platform.

"I was really excited to go to nationals," said McDermott. "That's a pretty prestigious honor."

McDermott hopes to win the zone meet next week to give him his second trip to the national championship, this time in Orlando, Fla.

"I'm working hard right now," McDermott said. "If I dive well, I'll be able to make it."

Cardinal Hill's Brian Jones of Vienna, has also participated in a national championship. In 1984, then at the intermediate level, he finished 11th overall.

Jones, 15, suffered from a strained back that kept him out of the three-meter division championships this season. He is a four-time NVSL all-star junior champion.

Now at the senior level, Jones said the stiff competition will keep him out of nationals.

"There are so many people my age that are really good," Jones said. "The competition is very strong, and I'm just doing it for fun. I'm not that serious about it."

When Cardinal Hill's Robin Kane of Vienna was 7 years old, she used to watch the divers practice. She wanted to be able to bounce on the board the way they did. Now 12, she has others watching her, as she has become one of the best junior divers in the league.

Winning three firsts and two seconds this season, Kane finds that one of her toughest competitors is her teammate Andrea Strano, also of Vienna.

"I like the competition," Kane said. "When it's friendly competition, it's fun."

Strano, 12, started diving lessons at age 6 and quickly moved into team competition.

"I'd see people doing other dives, and I wanted to do those dives," Strano said. "When I learned to do them, they asked me to join the team."

Both girls prefer diving in the summer to their other favorite sport, gymnastics.

"I love gymnastics because of the variety of it," said Kane. "But I don't like it in the summer because it's too hot."

Kane explained how the twists she learns in gymnastics help her to learn similar moves in diving.

Besides Strano, Kane had a strong competitor in Highland Park's Mary Girouard. Halfway throught the season, however, Girouard turned 13 and moved up to the intermediate level.

Despite Kane's success this season, she is not looking too far to the future.

"I just really enjoy diving as a sport," Kane said. "I've set goals for the season but no long-term goals."

Kane said she needs to improve on her back dive since it is required for competition.

"My back dive is never consistent," said Kane. "It has to be perfect to make it go straight."

Among the intermediate girls, Girouard now has to face Cardinal Hill's Stephanie Weaver. Although she placed fourth in her first all-star meet last year, Weaver remained undefeated throughout the dual meets this season. Unlike her teammate, Weaver said her best dive is her back dive. Weaver is also at a disadvantage in that she has competed in diving for only three years.

I joined because my friends were doing it," Weaver said. "My friends stopped, but I kept at it."

Although diving is the only sport Weaver participates in, she plans to be a member of the band and possibly the diving team when she enters Madison High School as a freshman this fall.

Girouard, last year's three-meter diving champion, was introduced to diving by her brothers.

Mike Girouard, 19, coach of the championship team, dove for the Highland Park team for 10 years and was a four-time NVSL all-star champion. He said the competition among team members helps them improve.

"They're competitive in practices," Girouard said. "They push each other, which makes coaching much easier."

With the season's end, both teams are preparing for the NVSL all-star meet Aug. 3. The best divers from the nine league divisions will compete for the championships for each age group.