Harlingen South duo of Kennedy, Vela off to state

HARLINGEN— Senior Cassandra Vela and Junior Mae Kennedy not only qualified for this year’s state swimming meet, but they made history along the way.Both Vela and Kennedy are the first divers from Harlingen South to reach the state meet.

“This is my first time competing overall,” Kennedy said. “Last year, I went to the state meet but I just went to watch and now that I’m going, I’m excited. It was a long season and very nerve wracking, but in the end, I’m glad I made it.”

As the day draws near, Kennedy feels some nerves but is still confident.“Right now, we are going through our dives and making sure everything is spot on, even the smallest details,” She said.

“We are making sure we have that covered and we perfect those day by day.”

Kennedy began her diving career when she was in eighth grade and will be making her state debut today in Austin.

“I’m most excited that I’ll be able to compete with my team,” Kennedy said. “Last year, we only had one of us make it and this year, four of us will be there and we are all in it together.”

Vela, meanwhile, began her diving career as a freshman and like many other divers, began as a gymnast and made the transition to the boards.

“I was in gymnastics all my life and when I got into diving, I was able to use all the skills I learned and was able to use it in diving,” she said. “I saw it really interesting and I have heard that many great divers come from a gymnastics background.”

Vela also will make her debut at the state meet this weekend and feels much more confident and prepared as a senior.

“Last year I was afraid to try new dives and overall I was just scared,” she said. “This year I tried new things and I gained confidence. When I saw that I qualified, I felt so excited and relieved. The first years I didn’t make it and for me to make it now, as a senior, I’m ready to experience it all before I graduate.”