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Dover High athlete makes splash in first season as diver after switching from gymnastics

RYAN VANDERSLOOT
717-505-5403/@yascores
Dover's Meagan Tuohy completes a one and one half backwards summersault with a half twist in the free position during the Eagles swim meet against New Oxford, Thursday, January 16, 2020.
John A. Pavoncello photo
  • Dover High's Meagan Tuohy is in her first season of competitive diving.
  • Tuohy recently moved to Pennsylvania from Virginia, where she was a gymnast.
  • Tuohy plans to compete in diving at Liberty University in Virginia as a walk-on.

DOVER – Normally, when teenagers move away from a home they’ve known and loved, it's hard.

Moving often is a time of uncertainly. A sense of anxiety is not uncommon.

While Meagan Tuohy may have experienced all of those things, her family’s move from Virginia to the Dover Area School District last March was also a blessing.

It presented her with an opportunity to meet new people as well as try out new things.

One of the new things that found its way into Tuohy’s life is the sport of diving. Having only taken up her new sport last summer, Tuohy’s improvement and growth as a competitive diver has been nothing short of remarkable in such a short time span.

The Dover senior, who finished first in several competitive diving events for the Eagles thus far this season, has already has pre-qualified for the District 3 Class 2-A girls’ diving meet later this month. She's also committed to dive for NCAA Division I Liberty University in Virginia as a walk-on.

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For Dover swim coach Ross Spangler, Tuohy’s success has been both remarkable, yet not unbelievable.

“I heard a lot of great things about Meagan coming into the season,” Spangler said. “And she hasn’t disappointed.”

Bond with teammate: Tuohy, who was home-schooled all the way up through her junior year, quickly formed a bond with teammate and fellow diver Whitley Hoffman.

“I know having Meagan was great for Whitley,” Spangler said. “For them both to have that camaraderie and support with each other is big, as well as to train with a lot of talent.”

Gymnastics background: Tuohy can credit a great deal of her quick success in diving to her lengthy background in gymnastics. For many, many years, Tuohy spent nearly 40 hours a week practicing her craft with the hopes of someday making the USA Gymnastics team.

While not a contact sport, gymnastics is not sport that is easy on the body. After suffering a pair of injuries — one to her elbow followed by one to her ACL — Tuohy continued on with the sport. Eventually, however, all the wear and tear, as well as the extensive time commitment involved, got Tuohy to think about alternatives.

The move last summer only helped speed up the process.

“I didn’t feel like I wanted to continue on with (gymnastics),” she said. “Just because I didn’t want to get hurt anymore.”

Discovering diving: Tuohy’s dad discovered the Soaring Eagles Dive Club, which is run by Northeastern diving coach Charles McCollum.

Once Tuohy checked it out, she was hooked.

“Diving has been great,” she said. “There’s definitely less wear on you, but you can still enjoy it. I can still incorporate a lot of the things that I’ve worked on in gymnastics for so many years of my life.”

Meagan Tuohy is seen here competing on the balance beam during her days as a competitive gymnast.

Using her head: Perhaps the biggest obstacle for Tuohy to overcome was the difference in landings. In gymnastics, sticking a landing required focus on the feet. The majority of competitive dives, however, require a head-first entry.

“I had to really get used to actually going in on my head,” she said. “I had been taught for so many years not to land on your head, so that definitely took a while.”

League event looms: Tuohy and Hoffman will both take part in the York-Adams League Diving Championships at Central York High School Thursday. While Northeastern’s Abigail O’Leary is the favorite as a two-time defending champion, Spangler is hopeful that both of his divers can finish in the top three.

“I think it is absolutely realistic,” Spangler said. “The way they have been diving the past few weeks, their scores have been very impressive. They’ve been nailing their dives and I know they’ve been getting in a couple of pretty good weeks of practice in.”

Reach Ryan Vandersloot at sports@yorkdispatch.com.