Lehigh freshman diver Megan Fennell dives into Jacobs Pool during a meet against Lafayett on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017, in Taylor Gym. Fennell has won Patriot League Female Diver of the Week twice this season. (Matt Bonshak/B&W Staff)

Women’s swimming and diving star Fennell shines in Lehigh-Lafayette meet

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When Lehigh University and Lafayette College men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams faced off for the 89th and 44th time, respectively, there was a raucous crowd fueling the historic rivalry.

Jacobs Pool was filled with sounds of waves crashing, coaches whistling and fans wildly cheering their swimmers on. Immediately after the races when the intensity seemed to reach its peak, the noise stopped.

That’s when superstar diver, Megan Fennell, took the 3-meter board. She performed a 303, or what newcomers to the sport would call a reverse 1 1/2 pike, earning top scores from both judges.

The crowd erupts once more, restoring Jacobs Pool to its previous decibel level.

Fennell is Lehigh’s program-changing addition, a two-time Patriot League Diver of the Week and record-setter. Once more Friday night, she put on another dominating display in an atmosphere she couldn’t believe.

I was told there was going to be a lot of people here,” Fennell said. “I just had no idea how packed it was going to get. I’m a very anxious person, so I try to relax my mind before and not overthink my dives. I like to be calm before I compete.”

Every time Fennell began her routine, there was a calmness to her. Her body seemed to relax with each step she took towards the end of the board.

The freshman from Washington, D.C. — who began diving as a high school freshman after a gymnastics injury forced her to leave the sport — led all divers with scores of 268.42 on the 3-meter and 266.85 on the 1-meter boards. In her collegiate debut a few weeks ago, Fennell broke a 24-year-old school. 

“To break those records was really exciting, I wasn’t expecting it. I have goals, but I didn’t quite have those high goals just yet,” Fennell said.

With no signs of stopping, coach Rob Herb had high praise for the freshman.

“Megan Fennell has meant the world to our diving program,” said Herb. “She has such energy. She and Brian (Bolstad) have been working so well together. It’s uplifted our entire program in an area where we needed to be strong in order to compete in our league. It really means we can vie for titles.”

The Mountain Hawks have dominated the Leopards for a combined 106-27 record, and Fennell certainly contributed in the win Friday night. Lehigh will look to continue its push toward a Patriot League title with the boost from the freshman diver.

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