Hall became the first diver in the history of the SJDA 1-Meter Championship to tally a score of 500 or higher when he finished with 528.4 points in last Thursday’s meet.
Prior to last week’s South Jersey Diving Association 1-Meter Championship, Covered Bridge Swim Club’s Dillon Hall had achieved nearly everything he could imagine in his youth diving career.
The Cherry Hill High School West 2018 graduate broke records in high school, twice finished in the top five in the NJSIAA state finals, took first place in the SJDA championships year after year, and wowed crowds with his performances.
However, Hall did something last week that no one had ever done before.
Competing in his final South Jersey diving meet, Hall scored a 528.4 last Thursday, becoming the first diver, male or female, in the history of the SJDA 1-Meter Championship to break the 500-point barrier.
“That was one of my main goals was just to hit that 500, “Hall said. “If I hit 500, my summer diving was complete.”
Hall pulled off clean dive after clean dive in the competition, drawing only minor deductions from the judges. All five judges gave Hall at least a nine out of 10 on all nine of his attempts. Hall also got five 10s on his fifth and ninth dives.
“It was sad, but it had to come to an end,” Hall said about his last dive. “Doing that last dive, I thought, ‘Hopefully, I can hit all 10s.’ It was nerve-wracking, but I was happy I got all 10s.”
Hall’s performance capped off an illustrious career in SJDA competitions. Hall owned numerous SJDA 1-meter diving records at one time over the last decade. He established a new benchmark when he moved up to the 16–18 age group a few years ago. When Hall entered the age group, only one diver, Ethan O’Neill of Woodcrest Swim Club, had ever topped 400 points. Hall broke O’Neill’s record as a 16-year-old and continued to improve on his performances the next two years, breaking his own records.
Hall admits he could have never imagined having the success he did when he first started diving for Covered Bridge. However, he recalls his coaches telling him he had the potential to be a special talent and wanting to prove himself.
“I’m glad I was able to prove to them that I am something,” Hall said.
The SJDA competitions were more than just about diving for Hall. Hall has served as a coach for the younger Covered Bridge divers and made friends with many of the other athletes he competes against.
“I’m going to miss it all,” Hall said. “Every single part of it. I’m going to miss the people, I’m going to miss the coaches, I’m going to miss all of the pools. It’s something you can’t describe.”
Hall’s diving career will continue in college, as he will attend Division I University of North Carolina Wilmington beginning in the fall. Hall said he wanted to go to a school in the South and fell in love with UNCW upon visiting the campus.
As for his SJDA record, Hall is hoping he isn’t the only one who can reach the 500-point mark. After receiving his first-place medal, Hall stood on the pool deck and watched as the divers in the 12- to 13-year-old age group prepared for their portion of the SJDA competition. Hall said some of those younger divers have the ability to top what he did and he is looking forward to seeing other young athletes eclipse his mark.
“Records are meant to be broken. I’m hoping somebody, someone in these ages coming up, somebody can break it,” he said.