Rachael Yeager is looking forward to becoming a leader on the swim and dive team


Racheal Yeager diving at one of her many meets

Junior Rachael Yeager found herself jumping into the ice-cold water, confident of the vision she had for the season ahead of her; however, what she didn’t see coming was the rat that had her and her whole team frantically scurrying to get out of the pool only moments after they jumped in. 

“We have something called midnight practice,” Rachael said. “It’s the very first practice of the season, and it starts at midnight, so when the clock strikes 12, we all jump into the water together. Last year, when we went to jump in, I heard people screaming. I was so confused about what was going on, but there was a rat—a dead rat—on the pool ledge.”

Rachael goes on to explain that her coach had to quickly pick it up by the tail and throw it out before the girls had to stare at it any longer, but, in typical fashion, the swim and dive girls bounced back from the disturbing encounter and jumped back in the pool the next day. 

Despite the sometimes questionable waters at the aquatic center, Rachael joined the swim and dive team as a diver during her freshman year. With no prior diving experience, she wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, but after many painful smacks onto the pool surface and adjusting to a new sport, she quickly realized that this was the place she wanted to be for the next four years. 

With the support of her friend senior Payton Dailey—who played a large role in originally convincing her to join—as well as the rest of the team, Rachael was ready to take on her first season as a diver. 

“I started diving freshman year,” Rachael explained. “I had no experience. My friend Payton [and I] did gymnastics together for a long time, and she was like, ‘you should try diving, it’s so fun.’ Originally, I really didn’t want to because I couldn’t even dive headfirst into a pool, but she got me into it. At first, I kind of hated it but then I started to love it, and I love it to this day.”

[It’s] a really large sense of accomplishment when you finally get your dive.”

Even though Rachael loves diving, at the start of her diving experience she had a lot of smacks. She explains that a smack is exactly what it sounds like: when you hit the surface of the water so hard that it makes a smacking sound. 

Despite the smacks, though, Rachael has found comfort in knowing that she and some of her fellow former freshmen are learning and growing together. Eventually, after putting in a lot of work, Rachael finally hit her first successful dive.

“[It’s] a really large sense of accomplishment when you finally get your dive,” Rachael said. “You stop feeling like you just smacked really hard, but you especially see a difference when your scores start to reflect your growth.”

Rachael explains that her scores started off on the lower side, but she quickly started to notice them improving with each competition she went to.

Now with Rachael being an upperclassman on the team, with consistent and beautiful dives, she is looking forward to her future goals of being a leader. 

“I really want to try to be a good leader,” Rachael said. “I think sometimes, because we didn’t have a lot of freshmen this year, and because I didn’t really do anything last year, I want to do anything to help motivate the team. I feel like I can step up in that sense to encourage them more and be someone for them to talk to.”

Given that Rachael was a first-time diver when she joined as a freshman, it would mean a lot to her if she could help to support incoming freshmen next year, and she is hoping for a strong turnout of new girls for the team.

“Sometimes, it can be scary, but it’s important to try new things,” Rachael said, “because you never know, you may end up loving it. And as long as you’re willing to struggle a little bit before you succeed, you’re going to enjoy it.”