You could sooner sneak sunrise past a rooster than keep Margo O’Meara from winning the state diving championship.
The Westminster Christian Academy senior recently captured her state record fourth consecutive girls diving championship in the Class 1 Girls Swimming and Diving Championships at St. Peters Rec-Plex. O’Meara won with 621.45 points, the second-best state score ever.
“I think there was some pressure to win my fourth title, but I did not feel it,” O’Meara said. “I was confident in my dives and myself. I usually don’t get too nervous before competition. My coaches are so encouraging. Coach (Steve) Braun and coach (Kent) Kehr are amazing. I couldn’t have been more blessed to have them as my coaches and to represent Westminster these last four years.”
The 5-foot-5 O’Meara is the only girl diver to win the state title all four years. Only one boy has accomplished such a sweep in the competition’s 46-year history. From 1998-2001, Columbia Hickman’s Aaron Ashworth captured four crowns in a row.
“Being the first four-time state champ for girls is exciting,” O’Meara said. “I’ve been so blessed to represent my school. After I won my first diving title, I did want to win it all four years. I take my competitions one meet at a time, so I never made that a specific goal, but I did definitely wanted to achieve that.”
O’Meara, who will compete in college at Duke, holds the state record she set as a junior with 635.5 points. That total bested the state record that was set in 1991 by Nerinx Hall’s Julie Grimmer by more than 100 points.
Incredibly, O’Meara never lost in high school in a dual event or an invitational meet besides sweeping the state meet.
Veteran Westminster coach Kent Kehr said the only adjective that’s appropriate to describe going unbeaten in high school is “ridiculous.”
He added she didn’t have any close calls either.
“It wasn’t that she was undefeated but that it wasn’t even close,” Kehr said. “As a side note, all the flashcards we own for judges to score the dives have the 10s torn off. They had a lot of use these last four years.”
Kehr believes O’Meara’s mark will last a long time.
“Even if the consecutive record is broken, her points record (more than any girl or boy to date) should be there for quite a while longer,” Kehr said. “She really is an all-around athlete. I think she could have been elite in soccer, basketball, or swimming. She was one of our fastest freestyle and fly sprinters on our team, without being able to work at it due to the time spent on diving. She was third in state in the 50 free during her junior year. She might be the only athlete to medal in swimming and diving.”
O’Meara owns four of the top seven scores in state history. As a freshman, she won with 499.8 points (seventh best score) and as a sophomore with 520.25 (fourth best score).
Immediately after state, she went to Florida to compete in the Coral Springs Invitational.
“I did really well. I won both the 16-18 1 meter and 3 meter events,” O’Meara said. “I got second in the Senior 3m event. It was great to get some competition due to no USA meets almost all of last year.”
The pandemic reduced her outside of high school swimming opportunities greatly in the past year.
“My USA Diving season in 2020 was reduced significantly,” O’Meara said. “(The) World Cup Trials got postponed along with nationals.”
The high school season, while cut back, did go on this winter.
“I stayed hopeful that it would happen and believed it would because boys had their state in the fall,” O’Meara said. “Thankfully, the high school season was not reduced much at all.”
O’Meara kept it simple at the state meet this year.
“Heading into state, I wanted to hit all of my dives to the best of my ability,” O’Meara said. “I was confident going into state and was excited. I took it one dive at a time and enjoyed every bit of it. I was extremely happy with my diving at the state meet. I did every single dive as I would have liked too. I was most pleased with my consistency. I jumped high and made very little splash on all of my 11 dives this year. My favorites were my reverses. My reverse 2.5 and my reverse 1.5 with 1.5 twists.”
When it came time for her last dive as a Wildcat, O’Meara said the importance of the moment struck her. A teammate prompted her feelings.
“It didn’t hit me that it was my very last high school dive until (Villa Duchesne’s) Annie Fox (the third place finisher) came out of the water in tears of joy. We went to school in seventh grade together,” O’Meara said. “I was last in the diving order and right before my dive we hugged. That’s when it hit me. I was thinking, ‘Wow, this is my last dive competing for WCA.’ Then, I had to get refocused before my dive.
“It was bittersweet. However, I am blessed to be able to continue my sport in college, while for many other seniors it was completely their last dive. When I came out of the water, I was happy. I looked at my coaches who were walking toward me. I was happy with my performance that day.”
O’Meara puts in the time to be the best, Kehr said.
“She’s never really content. Her character traits of perseverance, grit, and passion have helped her improve by quantum leaps each year,” Kehr said. “Her humility makes her a fantastic teammate.”
In college, O’Meara is eager to get to Duke and experience college diving.
“I believe the Duke diving coach (Nunzio Esposto) will push me and help me reach my potential athletically so I will have great success competing for Duke University,” O’Meara said. “Duke’s athletic programs and facilities are top-notch. The strong academics and alumni networks. I also liked the smaller class sizes.”
Making the Olympics are also on her mind.
In June, O’Meara will compete in the United States Olympic Diving trials in Indianapolis as she has qualified for synchro diving. She is “hoping to qualify individually as well sometime in April or May” when those meets are scheduled.
“I am extremely excited for Olympic Trials. I still have lots of work to do to be fully prepared, but I am excited to see where my future takes me,” O’Meara said. “It is fun to see how I compare to others around the nation. I love to compete and am very competitive.”
If making the 2021 games doesn’t work out, there’s the future ones for O’Meara. The 2024 Summer Olympic Games will be in Paris, France.
“Right now, I am focusing on the 2021 Olympic Games, but I will also be going for the 2024 Games as well and will possibly have a better shot at that due to redshirt fifth year at Duke,” O’Meara said.
Kehr believes there’s “no doubt” he see her compete in the Olympics. O’Meara will be missed by him as she graduates.
“Big shoes, fins to fill not just as a diver and swimmer but she proved to be a great leader and teammate that will be sorely missed,” Kehr said. “Honestly, I just enjoyed the ride these last four years. As a coach or athlete of any sport, you are riveted by a high-caliber athletic performance. I had the privilege of watching those skills at every meet. It wasn’t just the difficult dives with a lot of twists and flips. Even the simple required dives were jaw-dropping. Higher, cleaner, more powerful and ripped. No splash. Like the pool didn’t even know she entered.
“Kudo’s to my wife Leslie (John Burroughs swim coach) and Steve Braun our diving coach,” Kehr added. “If I was along for the ride then Steve was the front seat driver and Leslie was the back seat driver. Both very instrumental in Margo’s drive to win from an early age (Leslie) through high school (Steve).”