When divers Bradley Homza and Savanna Meadows compete at the UIL swimming and diving championships this weekend, they will pass the time between dives very differently.
Meadows, a senior at Burnet High School who plans to compete for the Air Force Academy next season, prefers to put on her headphones, listen to music and block out distractions until her next dive. Homza, a senior at Westwood who has signed with Georgia Tech, likes to walk around at a meet, mingling with his fellow competitors and congratulating them on their dives.
“I think it’s just his way of relaxing,” said Chip Weis, Westwood’s swimming and diving coach. “He’s good at stepping outside of himself for a few minutes and enjoying the atmosphere. When he steps on the board, though, it’s all about the dive, and he’s focused on it.”
Homza returns to the state meet as the only defending champion from an area high school. A year ago, he won the Class 5A 1-meter springboard title, topping San Antonio Marshall’s Christopher Law by fewer than two points. Law also has qualified for this year’s state meet.
“It was a great experience to win gold,” Homza said. “That was also my first year ever to make state because our region is really tough. Once I made it, I was really excited to be there and just wanted to show what I could do.”
What Homza showed in the state finals last year was that he could dive well under pressure.
“We were all sitting there (before Homza’s final dive), and we were kind of adding up what he needed in our heads,” Weis said. “He literally had to nail one of his hardest dives to (win the title), and he did.”
Homza began diving around the age of 8 or 9 after attending a weeklong summer camp at the pool where Westwood’s swim team practices. A couple of months after the camp, Homza joined Longhorn Aquatics, a club program, and started making the commute to the Jamail Texas Swim Center for three-hour practices five or six days a week.
“His first year he came in, and we knew immediately that he was going to be one of the best divers we’ve ever had,” Weis said. “He had something that other divers haven’t had, which is he really wanted to make diving a bigger part of our school’s team.”
Westwood’s divers typically don’t train with the swim team and usually don’t spend much time with their teammates, Weis said, but Homza “right from his freshman year, decided that was going to change.”
Homza has been the Westwood diving team’s captain for two years now, Weis said, and he has gone to every meet involving the Warriors. He also encouraged other divers he knew to join the team. This year, Westwood has four divers, and they form one of the best diving teams the school has ever had, Weis said.
“It’s tough for divers, because they don’t train with us,” Weis said. Homza “showed them that it can be fulfilling and they can do both the club stuff and the high school stuff and have a lot of success.”
Like Homza, Meadows will be making her second trip to the state meet. Last year, she finished fifth in the Class 4A girls 1-meter springboard after being sick the week before the UIL meet.
“I was disappointed,” said Meadows, who also trains with and competes for Longhorn Aquatics. “I didn’t think I dived my best.”
After starting out in gymnastics, Meadows switched to diving when she was in the eighth grade.
“Pretty much my whole life, I’ve been focusing on a sport,” she said. “As soon as I switched from gymnastics to diving, I fell in love with it right away, and I was committed.”
UIL swimming and diving championships
Jamail Texas Swim Center
10 a.m. — Class 5A prelims
4:30 p.m. — Class 4A prelims
9:30 a.m. — Class 5A finals
3:30 p.m. — Class 4A finals
Tickets: $5 per session for students, $10 for adults, $25 for all-meet pass
Area qualifiers for UIL swimming and diving championships
Note: Swimmers and divers are listed with their qualifying marks, and each event is listed with the top qualifying time or point total.
• Class 5A boys
200-yard medley relay (1 minute, 33.30 seconds): Westlake, 1:35.37. 200 freestyle (1:37.79): Wes Thomas, Westlake, 1:42.82. 200 individual medley (1:49.74): Zach Thomas, Westlake, 1:52.60; Young Jae Hur, Anderson, 1:53.10. 50 freestyle (20.85): Blaine Oldham, Bowie, 21.14. One-meter springboard (598.65 points): Brad Homza, 492.15. 100 butterfly (49.53): Ben Ussery, Westlake, 50.48. 100 breaststroke (56.51): Wes Thomas, Westlake, 57.31.
• Class 5A girls
200 medley relay (1:46.10): Westlake, 1:48.99. 200 freestyle (1:47.97): Laine Reed, Austin High, 1:49.03; Mackenzie Franklin, Westlake, 1:50.63. 100 freestyle (50.29): Mackenzie Franklin, Westlake, 51.49; Laine Reed, Austin High, 51.53. 100 backstroke (55.25): Abby Meyer, Bowie, 57.29. 400 freestyle relay (3:27.86): Westlake, 3:33.96.
• Class 4A boys
200 medley relay (1:36.55): Georgetown, 1:38.32. 200 freestyle (1:39.98): Christopher Flynn, Vandegrift, 1:41.05; Mark Olsen, Vista Ridge, 1:43.55; Seth Timmons, Burnet, 1:44.15. 200 individual medley (1:52.35): Kevin Ku, LBJ, 1:56.23. 50 freestyle (21.28): Graham Thompson, Georgetown, 21.93. 100 butterfly (50.12): Kevin Ku, LBJ, 51.16. 100 freestyle (46.48): Mark Olsen, Vista Ridge, 47.86. 500 freestyle (4:36.22): Taylor Abott, Cedar Park, 4:36.22; Seth Timmons, Burnet, 4:38.19. 200 freestyle relay (1:25.17): Vandegrift, 1:27.42; Georgetown, 1:29.37. 100 backstroke (52.50): Christopher Flynn, Vandegrift, 54.02. 400 freestyle relay (3:08.93): Vandegrift, 3:13.96.
• Class 4A girls
200 medley relay (1:47.61): Vandegrift, 1:50.89; Rouse, 1:53.17. 200 freestyle (1:51.01): Jessie Woolley-MacMath, McCallum, 1:54.72; Kayleigh Rago, Vandegrift, 1:54.92; Jordan Adkins, Dripping Springs, 1:55.37. 200 individual medley (2:02.47): Amanda Alspaugh, Rouse, 2:11.47; Sydney Sanders, Vandegrift, 2:14.74. 50 freestyle (23.74): Amanda Wu, Cedar Park, 24.30; Sheena Wang, Cedar Park, 24.95. One-meter springboard (522.75): Savanna Meadows, Burnet, 445.20. 100 butterfly (55.81): Haley Timmons, Rouse, 56.87; Cerina Vickery, Wimberley, 1:00.39. 100 freestyle (51.79): Amanda Wu, Cedar Park, 52.43; Jordan Adkins, Dripping Springs, 53.64. 500 freestyle (4:57.32): Jessie Woolley-MacMath, McCallum, 4:58.24; Amanda Alspaugh, Rouse, 5:08.16; Kayleigh Rago, Vandegrift, 5:12.86. 200 freestyle relay (1:38.48): Cedar Park, 1:42.03; Vandegrift, 1:43.06. 100 backstroke (56.49): Madison Ibrahim, Vandegrift, 58.88; Hanna Brown, Vandegrift, 59.77. 100 breaststroke (1:03.14): Jyna Leckbee, Rouse, 1:06.40; Samantha Bassman, Vandegrift, 1:06.81. 400 freestyle relay (3:32.59): Vandegrift, 3:38.49; Cedar Park, 3:44.61.