Teagan O’Dell Captures Swimming World Female High School Swimmer of the Year Honors


Teagan O’Dell Captures Swimming World Female High School Swimmer of the Year Honors

As a freshman, it took only one year for Teagan O’Dell to prove she was one of the best high school swimmers in the country.

It took only one more year to prove she was the best!

O’Dell, a sophomore from Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.—and coached by Ron and Rich Blanc—broke a national high school record and was selected as Swimming World’s High School Female Swimmer of the Year, leading her team to the state championship.

“It was honestly such a fun season for the whole team,” O’Dell said. “I felt like I was part of something bigger than myself.”

O’Dell was the top performer in the country in the 200 yard individual medley (1:53.38), breaking the national record in the event set by Torri Huske in 2021 (1:53.73).

It happened at the California state finals.

“Going into the section meet, my best time was a 1:55.1 from my freshman year state. At the section meet, in state prelims, I popped a 1:54.0, dropping a whole second. Then at state in prelims, I was 1:55.0, then finals 1:53.38,” O’Dell said. “I wasn’t not expecting it because I knew I could do it. But I also knew it would take a (near-perfect) race to do it. After prelims, I had to analyze what I was doing. I got really nervous during prelims. I started feeling pressure about getting the record.”

She turned that pressure into focus on her race. She had a specific game plan and wanted to execute it during the finals.

“The focus was the middle 100. I wanted to focus on the change from backstroke to breaststroke. My first three strokes of breaststroke were a little slow in prelims. I didn’t have the burst of energy to attack the breaststroke leg. But I did in finals, and I made it a point to attack each stroke off the pullout,” she said.

The race felt strong throughout, but O’Dell was still a little stunned to see the record time on the board, even though it was her goal.

“It was a lot of relief and happiness all in one. I almost didn’t believe it. I had been wanting to go that time all year. I was happy my hard work had paid off. I remember getting out of the pool, and my whole team was standing behind my block and embraced me in this huge hug, which was awesome,” O’Dell said.

And she still had more swims to go.


O’Dell also had the second-fastest 100 backstroke time in the country with a 50.96, breaking the California state record—and finishing just 13-hundredths off Leah Shackley’s (Bedford, Pa.) national record time of 50.83.

“I did my fastest 50 back leading off the medley relay. We got second…and we’ll have everyone coming back,” she said. “I led off the 200 free relay (22.4)…(and) we ended up winning (1:30.90). I took that into the 100 backstroke, and I ended up going 50.96—51 had been a goal of mine all year.

“I walked away all smiles!”

Also during the season, O’Dell was fourth-fastest in the country in the 500 free (4:42.90) and in the 100 breaststroke (59.73). She swam best times at her league meet in off events as well.

“Leagues was a local meet for us, and I got to swim the 100 fly and 50 free. I didn’t want to swim the same event six times in three weeks, so I had some fun with two new events, and I got a best time in the 100 fly. It was big for our team because it was the first time we won all levels across the board.

“It showed our depth at this school. We were really proud of each other,” O’Dell said. “We carried all of that energy into CIF-Southern Sectionals. It was one of the most fun meets I have been to.”

Then the energy shifted to the state finals.

“We went on a long bus ride to Clovis (in central California), and we had 20 guys and 20 girls on the trip…and having hours to just spend together and have fun together,” O’Dell said. “Prelims was such a big meet that I had two hours between my events. It was such a long day. The meet was like six hours. Then you have a quick sleep and do it again. It was a really long weekend. But the guys and girls won, so we were so hyped up.”

It led to a record-breaking swim and a dominating performance by O’Dell and Santa Margarita.


With two years of high school remaining, O’Dell, who has competed for Team USA in the Junior Pan Pacific Championships, is hoping this is just the beginning.

“Every time I swim is a new experience and new opportunity. I take in how I feel before, during and after my races. Going into next year, I want to keep open communication with my coach. That has really helped me build up my confidence. That has really shown with how I feel after my events,” she said. “I am hoping as an upperclassmen to be able to take some freshmen under my wing and be there for my team.”

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