Olivia Lehman wraps up illustrious career for JMU swimming and diving
our years ago, senior diver Olivia Lehman never could’ve imagined what she was going to accomplish during her time with the JMU women’s swimming and diving team. Now one of the most decorated divers in program history, Lehman’s illustrious career came to an end last week, when she finished in 50th place at the NCAA swimming and diving championships in Indianapolis, Indiana.“When I started college diving, I didn’t have any expectations for the kind of success I would have,” Lehman said. “I knew that NCAA’s was a really hard thing to qualify for, so I don’t think that I ever thought that I would qualify for that or compete with Olympians.”Lehman’s resume features a myriad of accomplishments over her four-year career. On top of competing in this year’s NCAA swimming and diving championship, Lehman won the 2016 NCAA Zone A 1-meter Qualifier, becoming the first Duke to ever win the event. The victory solidified her spot in last year’s NCAA swimming and diving championship, where she finished in 40th place. The Dayton, Ohio, native is the first diver in program history to compete in multiple NCAA Championships.Lehman attributes her success to the mentorship of former diving head coach Becky Benson and current diving coach John Wolsh.“The coaching that I’ve had over the last four years has greatly impacted my success,” Lehman said. “I know that I’m a very hard worker and I give my all into everything, but I know that without the guidance and expertise of the two coaches that I’ve had over the past four years, I wouldn’t have gotten to where I did.”Lehman is considered one of the most decorated athletes in program history, but her coaches and teammates believe she’s an even better person. “Olivia is a great athlete, but when she leaves us, it’s the person that we are going to miss,” Wolsh said. “She’s an amazing young woman and she has her priorities in order.” Lehman was the lone senior on this year’s diving team, which also featured two promising freshmen in Hope Byrum and Carlyn McNeely. The freshmen looked up to Lehman during their first full season of college competition.“She has such a strong leadership role and she’s always been there for us during the tough times and the great times,” McNeely said. “With all of her experience, she was able to guide us and be a mentor for us.”Lehman completed her dual career by winning 19 out of a possible 20 events, and finished as a three-time CAA champion. The senior was tabbed CAA Diver of the Week eight times over the course of her tenure and was also named CAA Diver of the Year last season. Her constant pursuit for excellence is something that will stay with the program for years to come.“She has set a precedent for the two girls that were freshmen this year,” Wolsh said. “Hopefully they will carry on that same integrity and that same work ethic.” Lehman said she’ll always be thankful for the opportunity she was given at JMU. Her legacy will forever be entrenched in the culture of the JMU swimming and diving team. “I’ll never forget the people and experiences here,” Lehman said. “I’ll always remember the things we accomplished and all the good times my teammates and I had together.”Contact Jake Brod at firstname.lastname@example.org.