Penn Hills diving newcomer qualifies for WPIAL meet

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Sunday, February 14, 2021 | 9:01 AM


Three weeks before the season, freshman Luke Hoolahan decided to pick up diving. Even with his limited experience, the Penn Hills swimming and diving coaching staff started to think early in the season that Hoolahan had an opportunity to qualify for the WPIAL Class AAA Swimming and Diving meet.

Hoolahan made the coaching staff’s prediction come true as he posted a diving score of 184.7 in a meet Feb. 2. Hoolahan is the first Penn Hills diver to qualify for the WPIAL meet in four years.

Hoolahan will participate in the WPIAL Class AAA diving competition Feb. 27 at North Allegheny.

“It’s an amazing experience,” Hoolahan said. “I didn’t expect to qualify. I love diving.”

Hoolahan is the younger brother of Colleen, who qualified for WPIALs all four years at Penn Hills.

Last season, Colleen Hoolahan finished 10th in the 100 breast with a time of 1:07.97, which was just behind Mt. Lebanon’s Meredith Reese and North Allegheny’s Isabella Dietz (1:07.68). Also at WPIALs, Hoolahan finished in 27th place in the 200 IM with a time of 2:20.57.

Colleen played a huge role in convincing Luke to pursue diving.

“She said she loved it,” Hoolahan said. “She had a fun time with it. She was good at it, and I wanted to be good at it like her, too.”

Luke remembers starting to swim at age 7 and following his sister’s footsteps as a swimmer.

Maureen Scuro has been teaching Hoolahan the proper footwork and technique for his dives. But Hoolahan explained he likes to clear his head before executing a dive, no matter if it’s in practice or a meet.

“I have an amazing coach. She works with me a lot with the practices. She’s just great,” Hoolahan said. “I find it best to clear your mind. When you have all those thoughts racing, it gets in the way of what you’re doing. I try to clear my mind before a dive and go for it.”

In early season conversation, Penn Hills swim coach Nick Page explained how he envisioned Hoolahan being able to qualify for WPIALs in the years to come in the 100 fly. Page has been familiar with Hoolahan since his days at the Rosedale Beach Club.

“I’ve been progressing well,” Hoolahan said. “The practices might be hard, but it’s there to help me get better. He had been my Rosedale coach before. My times have been cutting down more and more as they go on.”

During the season, Hoolahan was trying to find balance with practicing his swim strokes as he continued to qualify for WPIALs as a diver. Hoolahan loves to swim the backstroke as well as freestyle.

However, since Hoolahan has qualified for WPIALs as a diver, the coaching staff has decided to focus solely on his diving for the remainder of the year.

“I want to work on my footwork, technique and, hopefully, get really good,” Hoolahan said.

Senior Michael Lintelman was hoping to also qualify for the WPIAL meet in the 500 free.

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