Brooke Schultz Enjoys “Full Circle” Moment of Diving History at SECs

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Brooke Schultz Enjoys “Full Circle” Moment of Diving History at SECs

With her whirlwind diving schedule completed in two days, Brooke Schultz had time to reflect Thursday at the SEC Championships.

In 2018, she’d been a rookie on deck at Texas A&M’s Student Recreation Center Natatorium, representing the University of Arkansas.

Five years later, she was at the same venue, representing a different school, ascending the top step of the SEC podium for the eighth time.

The distance she has covered in those six seasons is somehow even vaster than two schools, nearly two degrees and eight medals can illuminate.

“It really has been such a wild journey,” Schultz said. “I’d say I’m a lot more confident as a diver, a lot more relaxed generally during meets – I still get the usual nerves and butterflies. But I’m pretty confident in what I do. … All of my dives have been very well practiced, so it’s trusting the training, year after year.”

2023 SEC Championships Links

For the fourth time, Schultz completed the springboard double at SECs. She won the 3-meter title Tuesday, scoring 356.35 points to lead a 1-2 with teammate Sophie Verzyl. Wednesday brought 1-meter gold, an event in which she holds the conference record from her Arkansas days. Schultz scored 345.05 to win. She led the field through prelims both days.

In placing these wins on her career continuum, Schultz recognized their level of intrigue. There are wins where you hit your last dive and don’t need to check the scoreboard to know it’s a winning total, she explained. These two – the margins over Verzyl and 1-meter runner-up Maha Amer of Florida was each around seven points – were not quite that decisive.

Schultz’s place in conference history is, though. She swept springboard in 2018 and 2019 with Arkansas and the last two years with South Carolina. She joins Florida’s Megan Neyer and LSU’s Kelli Hill as the only SEC divers, men or women, with eight SEC crowns. Neyer swept springboard from 1982-84 and 1986 (before platform was added). Hill won 1-meter twice, 3-meter three times and platform three times from 1989-92.

Schultz is one of only seven divers in SEC history with six or more titles: Tennessee’s Jim Kennedy and recent LSU graduate Juan Celaya Hernandez won seven each, while UT’s Billy Ferry and Evan Stewart won six each. (Ferry and Kennedy were in the pre-platform days; Stewart won all of his on the board.)

It’s rarefied air for Schultz, who is looking to add to her three NCAA medals. She won a national title on 3-meter in 2018 and was the silver medalist a year later. She took home bronze in 2021 on 1-meter. Last year, she finished ninth on 3-meter and 19th on 1-meter.

Schultz’s journey hasn’t been smooth sailing. She took a redshirt year in 2019-20 to prepare for Olympic Trials, where she finished sixth on 3-meter. The 2021 SEC meet, its atmosphere diminished by COVID-19 restrictions, was a struggle by her standards, slipping to third on 1-meter and fifth on 3-meter in what would be her final year at Arkansas. It was a wakeup call for what she admits was naivete after her explosion onto the college scene: “Going into my freshman year, I won both events, so kind of then, you get those big ideas of what, if I never lose,” she said.

But Schultz has handled those setbacks and emerged better for them. She competed at the FINA World Championships in 2019 and 2022. She owns medals from the Pan American Games in 2019 and the World Cup circuit. She’s wrapping up her studies on a master’s degree in sports management.

Her latest accolade is one that she’ll hold dear.

“I think that really put into perspective,” Brooke Schultz said of the two years without a title. “Now being one of the oldest people on the pool deck and having so many younger teammates who it was their first or second experience, I’m sharing my experience and what I’ve learned to help them navigate it.”

Notify of

Welcome to our community. We invite you to join our discussion. Our community guidelines are simple: be respectful and constructive, keep on topic, and support your fellow commenters. Commenting signifies that you agree to our Terms of Use

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x