Lehigh women’s senior diver Megan Fennell has become one of the most successful divers to ever compete for Lehigh.
But she didn’t always know diving was her passion.
“I did gymnastics until eighth grade and switched to diving because of the unique similarities,” Fennel said. “From there, I haven’t looked back.”
Fennell described the transition to be challenging, but once she got the grip of things, it became easy.
Fennell won the Patriot League one-meter dive in 2018, was named the Lehigh Diver of the Year in 2018 and 2019, was a First Team All-Patriot League and a Second-team All-Patriot League nominee.
But it’s her intangible assets that women’s and men’s swimming and diving head coach Rob Herb said separates Fennell.
Herb said Fennell is a focused leader who has a lot of compassion.
“(Fennell) is a top diver in the Patriot League, and those accomplishments help her lead by example — keeping that standard high and achieving it,” Herb said.
Junior swimmer Olivia Giampietro said Fennell is hardworking and supportive.
“I have known Megan (Fennell) since the first day I stepped onto campus,” Giampietro said. “She is one of the nicest people and puts a ton of time and effort into her training. With most of our team being swimmers and having such few divers, she puts all her effort in perfecting everything into the pool.”
With so much uncertainty throughout the Patriot League for an upcoming season, Fennell has been doing all that she can to be the best leader she can be.
“It is a lot more leading virtually than being in the pool,” Fennell said. “It is making sure I am communicating with the freshmen, checking in, staying on top of schoolwork and exercising. We have had Zoom meetings, and in those, I make sure my voice is heard rather than doing it in the pool.”
Teams have not been able to practice together since Sept. 29 after athletics indefinitely shut down sports due to an increase in positive COVID-19 cases. But, on Nov. 6, Lehigh sent an email to the community that teams could start practicing again. Fennell said it was tough at first to find the motivation to train every day.
“As I started to adjust more to these unprecedented times, I have realized exercise is important, and even without access to a diving board, I have found ways in stretching and running to continue to motivate myself,”she said.
Herb said Fennell’s positivity throughout this time of uncertainty has been important to the team’s morale.
“Megan (Fennell) has helped the other first-year divers to keep hope alive,” Herb said. “She reminds them to keep at it with their schoolwork and training on their own. She has been a great model and mentor.”
Fennell said she has a team-first mentality and enjoys the other swimmer and divers’ success rather than her own. She said she focuses on lifting people’s spirits and is constantly cheering for the other swimmers and divers at meets.
Herb said Fennell puts a lot on herself as an athlete and challenges herself to be her best at every meet.
Fennell said her favorite part about being a student-athlete is the relationships she has made with other students.
“I love how I can have friends that are in my classes and ones that are on my team,” she said. “Not only having one group but making myself more familiar with the students in my classes and building a stronger relationship.”