Amy Dispanet and Guy Sandin watch intently as the Ilda Pool junior and intermediate divers execute various tucks, twists and turns in a Northern Virginia Swim League meet.

From the side of the pool they coach, encourage, console. They discuss techniques and problems and demonstrate the difficult motions of a dive for their teammates on deck.

Once the senior division begins, the younger members of the team turn to watch as Dispanet and Sandin, their coaches, take to the boards. That is when they coach themselves.

The 17-year-old Annandale residents took on the dual roles of diving and coaching this summer. When they discovered at the beginning of the season that the team had no coach and faced disbandment, the pair quickly volunteered to take on the task. "We were afraid we wouldn't have a team," Sandin said. "We couldn't let that happen . . . we love this team."

Their enthusiasm in instructing the team, and in their own practice and improvement, not only enabled Ilda to continue competing, but also helped the team finish second with a 4-1 record in the NVSL's Division III.

Sandin finished first in every meet this season, including the division championships last week. Dispanet lost twice, placing second to Nikki Marshall of Royal Pool in a dual meet and in the division championships.

Dispanet, a W.T. Woodson graduate who will attend the University of Alabama in the fall, began diving nine years ago.

"When I was 8 or 9, I could do a dive and a flip," said Dispanet, who at that time was an avid gymnast. "I had just learned how to go off the diving board." When an older girl told her how great her dives were, she became confident enough to join the diving team.

Now the 5-foot-6 lifeguard recruits the same way. It was Dispanet who convinced her co-coach to join the team. When Sandin moved back to the United States from Panama about four years ago, he had been practicing dives at Ilda for the fun of it.

"That first summer, I got all firsts and Amy did really well, too," Sandin explained. "Then we got involved in the team at Woodson and we both got better and better."

Now the two dive year-round, practicing every chance they get. Although coaching is new to them and takes some time away from their own practices, the privileges and rewards are worth their hard work and sacrifices.

"You get a lot of satisfaction," Sandin said. "Seeing the kids learn the dives, and to help them get better, is rewarding," Dispanet added. They agreed that they are treated more like adults with their added responsibility.

The younger Ilda divers are just as enthusiastic about the new coaches, although those closer in age to Dispanet and Sandin find it more difficult to take their authority as seriously.

"It's really weird to see one of your teammates telling you what to do," Sandin said. "The juniors like it because they look up to you."

Sandin described how he and Dispanet may be a little more lenient than some previous coaches who received immediate respect because they were older.

"When a junior sees a fellow diver, there is not the same amount of respect {as there is with a parent-coach}," Sandin said. "But they can act more freely, and they're not as easily frustrated."

The newly acquired task of analyzing dives and explaining technical problems to teammates has not been difficult for the pair. They described how their own experience helps them to coach successfully.

"We've been coached so many times by other coaches and had to correct these things ourselves that we know {what's right and wrong about a dive}," Dispanet said.

Although they rarely disagree on coaching and diving techniques, they often offer varying viewpoints. At practices, they sit on opposite sides of the pool and watch each dive. Each sees a different angle and explains how to improve on it.

"We complement each other. We both see a different point of view, but think the same," Dispanet said. "We have different methods of coaching because we have had different coaches, have seen different coaching techniques."

Sandin, a senior, will compete for Woodson this fall. He hopes to continue diving through college and as a hobby afterwards. And he wants to keep coaching.

Dispanet plans to play soccer at Alabama in addition to diving. For her, it's hard to choose between the two.

"When diving season comes along, it's diving, but when soccer season is here, it's difficult to say which is my favorite."