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Diver makes a big splash – figuratively, of course – in the sport

by Judith Hruz


Mothers are always right.

At least in the case of Max Weinrich of Brookeville.

Max began diving for the Tanterra swim and dive team in Olney when he was 7 years old, not so much because he wanted to do it, but because his mom, Diana, suggested it.

“My mom thought I should do it,” said Max, who will turn 18 this month. “She was right.”

Boy, was she right.

Max had the talent and gained the drive to become a diving powerhouse.

Since he began diving, Max has made it to USA Diving Junior National Championships, the Junior Pan American Games, the World Junior Diving Championship and the U.S. Olympic Trials on June 9.

During the Olympic Trials, Max competed for the men’s 3-meter springboard event, having qualified as one of the top 35 divers in the nation to compete for a spot on the 2021 U.S. Olympic Team.

Through six rounds at Olympic Trials, Max qualified for the semifinal round and finished 14th overall with a score of 691.25.

At 17, he was the youngest athlete to make the semifinals this year. He competed against two medalists from the 2016 Olympics and eight more NCAA finalists from this year’s championship meet.

The competition had him in awe.

“When I’m at these events, I take it all in and love it, and I understand it is amazing for me to be there,” he said.

As much as he would like to compete in the Olympics — and he would like to make it to the 2024 or 2028 Olympics — that is not his end goal.

“Becoming the best I can be, that’s what I’m working for,” he said.

Max said platform diving is probably his favorite event, but acknowledges it is tough on the body.

More platform divers are closer to age 18 than to age 30.

For now, however, that does not deter Max from continuing to work hard and hone his skills.

“It is the nature of sport,” he said. “You have to be fearless and you have to be healthy.”

Max qualified again for the recent Junior Pan American Games, which were held Oct. 6-10 in Tucson, Ariz., and will held to the World Junior Diving Championships in Kiev, Ukraine, Dec. 2-9.

Oh, and he’s been a standout on the Sherwood High School diving team, has won the High School Metro meet and the State Championship, was selected for the All-American Athlete honors in 2019 and 2020, and was the only freshman named to the Washington Post’s All-Met team.

Dan Laak, High Performance director for USA Diving Inc. in Indianapolis, believes Max can go even further with his diving.

“Max’s desire to be great and athletic abilities are his biggest strengths,” Laak said, “He also looks beautiful in the air and gets into the water without a splash.”

Laak, who has worked with Max and watched him over the years, added, “Max has been improving each year and has done very well at the international events that he has attended. I believe if he continues to improve, he will have an excellent shot at the 2024 and 2028 Olympic Games.

As it did with many things, COVID brought Max’s diving to an abrupt halt in 2020, as the divers and coaches were no longer allowed to practice together in their regular county facilities.

“Their club team struggled and ultimately folded under the financial pressures of COVID,” Diana Weinrich said. “The children and their families were devastated.

However, head coach Wes Mattice formed a new, smaller club – Monumental Dive club, and began to reach out to local outdoor pools, Diana said.

“With masks on and social distancing, he met these kids during off hours at local pools – sometimes 6 a.m. or 10 p.m. – because those were the only safe times to bring the kids into the pools,” she said. “The followed COVID precautions and traveled to other areas in search of tower pool time so they could keep those skills strong.”

Diana said it was a struggle.

By the creative problem solving of Montgomery County’s Recreation Department, Mattice was able to slowly integrate back into the county’s premier diving facilities “and give these kids a chance to maintain their skills in a sport they loved,” Diana said.

She lauded Carrie Headen, the manager of the Montgomery County Recreation Aquatics program, for being instrumental in setting up access to the pools in a COVID-safe way.

“It’s been an amazing journey watching Max excel in diving,” said his mom, the woman who encouraged him to try the sport. “It has been a little surreal at times trying to reconcile in my head between being proud as a mom and being impressed outside of that. I remember when we were first contacted by USA Diving with an invitation for Max to join their Junior Olympic Team. I think that’s when I realized that he had potential to really take his passion as far as it could go.”

For six years he has been invited to be part of the team.

“I still get a rush every time he earns a medal or qualifies for an international meet,” Diana Weinrich said. “It’s been really exciting for me to watch my son keep getting closer to his dreams and enjoy the path to get there”

Max was invited to go to Indiana University (IU) and join a group of Olympic divers under one of the country’s premier coaches, Drew Johansen. He will be joining the NCAA Division 1 athletes after he graduates from Sherwood in spring 2022.

“I’m really excited about that,” Max said. “It’s my dream school because of diving program.”

He said he is not yet sure what his major will be.

And yes, his has his eyes set for the Olympics.

But he knows that at the end of the day, “my goal is really to keep growing. Sport is a way to learn about the world, to grow as a person,” he said.

Laak is impressed with Max’s diving skills, but just as impressed with other skills he brings to sports.

“Max is a great kid that is very empathetic and cares about the divers around him,” the coach said. “He is the type of person that transforms everyone he comes in contact with.”

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