As a freshman last year, Lauren Mehta couldn’t help but stare up at the record board above the the Farmingdale High School pool. She kept picturing her name up there one day,she said, but she even surprised herself at how quickly that dream became a reality.
“When I first started diving, I saw that score and I thought I could never possibly do that,” said Mehta, a sophomore. “But this year, when I started upping my game and practice, I definitely had eyes on it. But I just never thought it would happen -- especially so soon.”
But it did. Mehta broke Lauren Horoszewski's six-dive record, set in 2000, by almost four points with a score of 247.05 on Sept. 21 against Hempstead and upped the record to 271.35 against Freeport on Sept. 25 to earn Newsday’s Athlete of the Week honors.
“When [my coach] said ‘Lauren with a new school record’ and then said the score, I immediately felt ecstatic and when I get like that, I just start crying from joy,” Mehta said. “And I just started crying. It’s a moment I’m going to remember forever.”
Farmingdale coach Randy Corcoran said he knew from the first time seeing the diver on a board that she would be something special.
“You just knew it was coming,” Corcoran said. “I did not expect it to come this fast, this season, though.”
Mehta said she didn’t start diving until age 13 after six years of focusing on gymnastics. Her mother, Annie Mehta, had competed in diving and Lauren wanted to follow in her path.
Corcoran said he believes the work Mehta put into gymnastics has helped both in the lanes and on the board. Mehta has felt comfortable in the air from a young age, which is something not all divers can say.
“She was quickly picking it up in those junior high years and most of that you can tie into that she does gymnastics," he said. "She has a natural ability of spacial awareness and it translates pretty quickly into diving.”
Mehta, who said she practices her dives seven days a week, including twice on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, finished seventh at the Nassau County finals last season. And along with her abilities as a diver, she is also a strong swimmer -- winning the 100-yard backstroke in a time of 1:12.46 the same day she broke the school diving record for the second time.
“It’s very, very difficult to do both because you're not really getting a lot of swim time,” Corcoran said. “You’re just doing it on pure athleticism. And she’s very competitive, quietly competitive. She wants to win.”