Introduced to swimming at basic-skills program when she was very young, Maddie Reese quickly found she not only didn’t like the sport, she wasn’t very good, either.
Looking for a way out of the program at her family’s neighborhood pool, Reese noticed divers practicing and said she wanted to give that a try.
So began what became a standout 1-meter diving career at Oakton High School, one that Reese has parlayed into a roster spot on the women’s team at the University of Tennessee.
“I wanted to do anything to get away from swimming back then,” Reese said. “I didn’t start out very good at diving, either, but I liked that a lot more and gradually improved. So I stuck with that. I didn’t know anything about diving back then. I didn’t even know it was a competitive sport.”
Reese became a bigtime competitor. She recently concluded her high-school career by finishing third in the Virginia High School League’s Class 6 girls state- championship meet with a personal-best high-school point total of 443.30. She also finished third in the 6D North Region meet this winter, and second in the Concorde District championships.
As a junior, Reese was second in the state and region and won the district crown. She also was a district champ as a sophomore, placing fourth in the region and fifth in the state.
Reese dived for Good Counsel High School as a freshman, winning a conference crown, before her family moved to Northern Virginia.
“High-school diving in Virginia is super-competitive,” Reese said. “Every meet I was consistently doing better with my scores. This year, as a senior, I made All-American cuts in my three meets, so I was happy about that and I proved myself.”
Reese wanted to win this year’s state meet, but she wasn’t unhappy with her performance.
“I had my personal-best score at states, so I’m glad I finished strong,” Reese said. “Now, I’m really excited about college diving to see how I can do in the Southeast Conference.”
Reese also is a platform and 3-meter diver in year-round club diving. Those heights are not offered in high school. Her favorite is the platform, her least the 1-meter.
“It can be scary up there, but I always like the heights better,” Reese said. “The 1-meter I did so much, I started to get better.”
Oakton High diving coach Cheryl Meltz-Kroopnick said Reese is the most talented girls diver she has coached at the school.
“Maddie has worked hard and always wants to win, and isn’t satisfied if she doesn’t,” Meltz-Kroopnick said.
NOTE: Reese came close to setting the girls single-meet school diving record at Oakton, held by Halina Obremskey with 460.23 point total, set in 1997.
PHOTO: Oakton High School diver Maddie Reese finished third in the state.