On most school days this winter, Gabbie Meier would go through a two-hour swim practice, followed by a two-hour diving practice before heading home from Columbus East between 7 and 7:30 pm
Sometimes, those after-school practices came on days where the Olympians had morning swim practices, when Meier would arrive at school between 5:30 and 6 am
“I’m used to it because I’ve been a gymnast my whole life, and that was 3 1/2-hour practices every night,” Meier said. “So it’s nothing that I’m not used to. If I didn’t do both, I’d be at home doing nothing.”
All of Meier’s training has paid off in a big way, especially on the diving side. The sophomore finished 16th at state in diving and is The Republic Girls Swimming and Diving Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive year.
“She has done a super job for us,” East girls head coach Jill Arnholt said. “She has always worked really hard. She swims and dives, so she’s had to split her time up between both, and she gives 100 percent to both swimming and diving. She has a great work ethics. She comes in, and she doesn’t slack off. She always has the right mindset. We’re really pleased to have her on the team.”
Although she didn’t start diving seriously until the summer before her freshman year, Meier enjoyed immediate success. She twice broke the 11-dive school record and qualified for the state finals, where she finished 29th.
This year, Meier broke her own school record with a 422.2 at the Columbus North Sectional. She made it back to state and made it to the final cut, finishing 16th.
“The fact that we went from 29th to 16th is a huge accomplishment,” East diving coach Nancy Snyder said. “The fact that made the last cut was a huge deal. Having been there once already, she was a lot more relaxed and knew what to expect. We were able to set her dives up to where she was in a better position to make the cuts. Yes, we know we have some things to go, but she did real well.”
Meier credits much of her improvement to the week she spent last summer at the RipFest Diving Camp in Arcadia. She plans to return there again this summer.
“They taught me a lot of things, and I was able to use those things this year and that helped me a lot,” Meier said. “They taught me a lot about water saves, a lot of technique, how to get more height on the board, keeping my core tight and a whole bunch of stuff. I could really tell that I improved this year. My height on the board and my approach looked a whole lot better this year.”
“Timing was really a whole lot better,” Snyder added. “She added a few new dives, which were great. She’s always been really good at staying calm and staying focused.”
That especially was the case at the state meet, where Meier benefited from having competed there the year before.
“I was just going there to have fun,” Meier said. “I was pushing myself to make it to each round. That was my goal, but I was just trying to have a good time out of it.”
Meier also made a big improvement on the swimming side. She made the consolation heat in the 100-yard butterfly at the sectional and swam on the Olympians’ 400 freestyle relay team for most of the season. She swam other events throughout the season, including the 200 individual medley.
“She’s pretty versatile,” Arnholt said. “I can ask her to do anything in swimming, and she’ll do it, and diving is the same way. She’s fearless. We’ve just been so proud of her and really pleased with her progress. I hope she keeps it up.”