Reflecting for the first time since Tokyo, Hailey Hernandez says what she achieved is still sinking in.
“It just still doesn't feel real to me and so it’s just amazing knowing I'm an Olympian now,” Hernandez said.
The experience was all she hoped to gain at the U.S, Olympic trials, her first major meet after the shutdown.
“So coming out of that I made the team and I wasn't expecting it at all,” she said.
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Since pools, where she trained, were closed, Hernandez practiced dives in her backyard pool.
She said slowing down helped her overcome obstacles outside the pool.
“I had had a little bit of mental struggles, mental blocks on my dives leading up until that point,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez, a four-time state champion. graduated from Southlake Carroll High School in May.
At 18-years-old, she was the youngest Olympic competitor in the women's 3-meter springboard.
“I just went in with the mindset of getting experience, having fun and doing the best that I could and I ended up making the final and that was my ultimate goal and so I couldn't be happier,” Hernandez said.
Her consistency landed her in ninth place overall.
The experience, she said, brought her out of her shell.
“Honestly, before all of this, I was just a quiet, reserved person that was just out there doing my thing,” Hernandez said. “I definitely have a lot more confidence competing at the international level and going out there and knowing that I deserve to be there.”
Hernandez will head to UT on a diving scholarship later this month.
She said if she makes the Paris 2024 team, she’ll have her sights set on a medal.