ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: Maggie Merriman


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  • | 10:48 a.m. August 20, 2015
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At just 15 years old, Olympia sophomore Maggie Merriman won a junior national title for the second time in her career on Aug. 9 at the USA Diving National Championships at the YMCA Aquatic Center in Orlando. Merriman, who competes for YCF Diving through the Central Florida YMCA, won the 14-15 girls platform dive by finishing with a score of 357.95 points. Merriman previously won a national title in 2013, also in the platform.

How did it feel to win your second national championship as a diver?

It was such a moment of relief, because of all my hard work and everything that I had worked for the whole year paid off in that moment when my scores popped up. It was relief, excitement — a whole bunch of emotions.

How did you get your start in the sport?

I was 9 years-old when I started diving. We had just moved to Florida (from the Atlanta area). We were touring the YMCA, and I saw the divers, and I was like, “Wow, that’s really cool. Mom, can I try it?” So my mom enrolled me in a weeklong camp, and I did a few more, and I just loved it ever since.

At what point did it become clear to you that you’re pretty good at this whole diving thing?

2011 was my first (appearance at) nationals, and I was like, “Wow, that’s really cool, but everybody is so good.” So I kept training, and 2013 was really the moment I was like, “Wow, I’m on top. I can do this.”

How did your first championship feel back in 2013?

When I won in 2013, it was a shock. I was like, “Whoa!” And it won me a trip to the Junior Pan-American Games in Arizona. It was a shocking moment, and it was really exciting.

Did winning in 2013 inspire you to want more?

It inspired me so much, because the feeling of winning and earning that trip to the Junior Pan-Am’s was just an awesome feeling. It inspired me to work so hard to get it again.

Which national championship meant more to you?

That’s a hard question, but this year was definitely special, because I had a dive that I messed up, and I was like, “Wow, that could have ended it for me.” I had to get mentally strong, get back together and refocus and do it again. I triumphed over a bunch of obstacles, so this one was definitely special.

How much do you value your role as a mentor to younger YCF divers?

That’s really special for me. When we got to meets, it’s so awesome to see the little kids so excited and watching us older kids do what we do. I specifically remember when I was a little kid looking up to some of the older kids on my team. So I try my best to really encourage them and have people to look up to … for them to see me have a fall and show that you can always come back and win. That was special for me.

Did you get to meet and mingle with the competitors from different countries at the Junior Pan-Am Games in 2013?

We got to meet and mingle and socialize. It was really cool seeing how everybody else (from different countries) trains.

How do you train your body to improve as a diver?

It’s not so much just weights; it’s just being explosive and being quick. It’s reaction skills and balance and core strength.

What do you like to do when you’re not busy training?

I love being outdoors, and I love to surf. I love the beach, and I love to fish, too. Just being with family and friends.

What’s your best fishing story?

At Disney, there’s a fishing (tour,) and I caught a really big bass that day — I beat everybody else on the boat. Out of all the men, I was like this little girl, and I caught the biggest fish.

What do you think you’d like to do for a career?

I would like to be in the medical field, so I would like to either be a physical therapist or a nurse practitioner.

The first time you went up to dive from the platform, were you scared?

You start on the lower (boards), and it was just kind of fun jumping off. … Slowly I moved up, and it’s scary every time you do something new. But I just love the feeling of adrenaline and everything that goes into diving (from the platform).

 

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