LSU diver moves closer to Olympic dream

Juan Celaya-Hernandez has dreams of the 2020 Summer Olympics.
Juan Celaya-Hernandez has dreams of the 2020 Summer Olympics.(LSU)
Updated: Feb. 10, 2020 at 2:44 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - LSU swimming and diving member Juan Celaya-Hernandez will spend part of his summer in Tokyo. Not for a study abroad program, but as a member of Mexico’s Olympic team.

Celaya-Hernandez, a standout on the LSU swimming & diving team, won bronze at the FINA World Championships in South Korea with his partner Yahel Castillo in the 3-meter synchronized dive. Later in the year, the pair won gold in the same event at the Pan American Games in Peru, where Celaya-Hernandez also won gold in the 1m springboard and silver in the 3m springboard.

It was the perfect end to a year that saw him win 18 of 24 events, win gold and bronze medals at the SEC Swimming and Diving Championships, and be named an NCAA All-American.

The two biggest events to come are the FINA World Cup in Tokyo in April and then the Olympic Diving Trials in June in Mexico City before Hernadez can officially pack his bags for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

“Deciding to make a run for the Olympics didn’t come last year, nor the year before,” Celaya-Hernandez said. “This has been my dream since I was 9 years old and I’ve been working really hard my whole career to accomplish that dream. The dream of any elite athlete, wearing the flag of your country at the biggest athletic event, which less than 1% of the world’s population can go … A dream of little Juan can come true.”

Celaya-Hernandez began swimming across the diving well, a separate pool with only deep water, as a child because his mother wanted he and his sister Ana to learn how to swim for survival. Ana then switched to diving and Celaya-Hernandez followed her, wanting to learn how to flip through the air from the 10m tower.

That started a journey that led to 13 Mexican junior national championships, 10 Pan American junior national championships, three LSU records, two SEC records and a host of other accolades. The best, however, is yet to come.

“Diving is not just a sport, it’s my way of life,” Celaya-Hernandez said. “I’ve always been a really passionate athlete, always trying to achieve more. I’d say I still have ways to go in this sport but I’m really happy with what I’ve done so far…not satisfied.”

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