Jacqui St. Clair dives from new heights

St. Clair has been diving since freshman year, and decided she would commit to the sport and seek college recruitment this fall.


St. Clair has been diving since freshman year, and decided she would commit to the sport and seek college recruitment this fall.

With her back to the pool and eyes forward, junior Jacqui St. Clair propels her body through the air, somersaulting backwards and cleanly sliding into the water in her favorite dive: a reverse.

St. Clair started diving her freshman year and has risen to the top of the state, winning the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) Division I State Championship for diving this fall season. After joining the high school’s girls varsity swim and dive (GVSD) team, St. Clair joined the Boston Area Diving club as a freshman, where her training amplified in both time commitment and intensity.

According to St. Clair, her practice schedule went from seven hours a week to 15 to 20 hours a week upon joining Boston Area, where she trains with athletes from all around the Greater Boston area. Before joining GVSD, St. Clair’s only experience with diving was experimenting at a pool of a country club.

“I went from doing this at a country club pool to training with kids who are ranked top five in the nation. I went my first day, I saw what they could do and then I was like, ‘I want to be able to do that,’” St. Clair said.

After competing in Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Nationals this summer, St. Clair said she decided she would commit herself to the sport, seeking to be recruited for college. GVSD head coach Kelly Gilmore said St. Clair is driven by the goals she sets for herself.

During high school season, St. Clair dominated in dual meets and moved on to win both the sectional and state meets, even with a hand injury preventing her from competing in the Bay State Conference Championship meet.

GVSD diver, senior and captain Olivia Shih said she and St. Clair formed a strong relationship quickly because of the team’s warm environment, which has provided Shih a close-up lens of St. Clair’s work ethic and leadership on the team.

“Jacqui is probably one of the most focused workers I’ve ever met. She’ll walk into practice and the rest of the dive team likes to stretch, nap, lay down on this mat before we get in the water, but Jacqui’s right on the board, super zoned-in and straight-faced,” Shih said. “And then the whole practice, she’s beaming out these amazing dives.”

Shih said that during the fall season, St. Clair impressively balances practices with GVSD and her club team on top of school work.

“Jacqui is a very, very busy person. There have been weeks where multiple days a week, she’ll get up at like four in the morning, go to Concord, practice with her club, come to school and practice for the high school team. Then she’ll go back to club practice, go home and lift weights, and then do homework. I’m in awe of how she does it all,” Shih said.

However, Shih said St. Clair always makes supporting her friends a priority.

“She’s a very hard working student too and she’s also very caring,” Shih said. “She gives everything to all her friends, she gives 110 percent into all of her friendships.”

As she pursues college recruitment, St. Clair said her teachers have been very supportive in helping her manage the workload and stay successful in her classes.

“This year has been hard academically, but my teachers have been super good about [giving] extensions on work. The process itself is really hard, because there’s not that many spots for diving. It’s not a huge sport,” St. Clair said.

Gilmore said she looks forward to seeing St. Clair’s future in the sport as a captain in her senior year on the team and beyond.

“If she continues to enjoy diving, she could really soar in her college years,” Gilmore said. “Jacqui’s wins have been well-deserved. She continues to make me proud and it is bittersweet to think that I only have one more season with her.”