By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The girls state swim and dive meet started Thursday at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center, and will conclude with finals Saturday evening.

One of the divers to watch is a defending state champion: Edina’s Megan Phillip.

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It is not hard to figure out why. She is the third child in the family, and she is the fifth of five in her family to take it to a higher level.

Doug Philip is not an official coach at Edina High School. He is at practice helping coach his daughter, because, you see, it’s quite a family of divers. Both he and his wife were Division I divers, as were his two sons. And now Megan is on that course.

“It’s really great to have everybody doing it together,” Doug said.

He met his wife while diving, and his two sons took up the sport. The final child then came along, Megan, started to re-write the Minnesota High School record book — winning state last year with a broken ankle.

“It was definitely hard because I didn’t know it was broken for a while,” Megan said. “I broke it, and then for a couple months after that I didn’t know it was broken.”

Doug said the exact extent of her injury was not clear at first.

Megan Phillip (credit: CBS)

“I don’t think we knew how bad the ankle was at the time. The doctor had taken a look at it and said everything was OK,” Doug said. “Later we found out it was a little bit worse than even what he thought it was going to be.”

That’s the life of a diver. Dealing with the physical is almost easier than the other side of this sport: the mental. Or more specific, the fear of injury, even for Megan when she started.

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“Whenever I first started, I mean, I definitely had a lot of fears and a lot of mental blocks,” Megan said.

She overcame that with time on board, and with an ability to see the task at hand.

“One of the greatest strengths she has is her ability to focus. I mean, she can shut the entire world out while she’s preparing for a meet,” said Edina diving coach John Dailey. “She’s got a real sense of kinetic intelligence. She knows where she is at every moment, knows where every body part is in the air. She has just a tremendous amount of athletic ability on top of that.”

That brings us the next stop. She has committed to the University of Minnesota, with even bigger goals than the Big 10.

“Olympics,” Megan said. “I’m trying to get onto the international team and go to international meets. I am hoping to make Olympic trials for 2020.”

That would be a first for a family that has accomplished so much off the board. They are bonded by the sport, or maybe more succinctly, by the challenge to perfect what is difficult to perfect: part art, part science.

What makes Dad proud is not as much about the accomplishments of his youngest, but her heart.

“It’s wonderful to see what she’s doing, I’m so proud of her,” Doug said. “Not just because of the results, but because of how hard she works at what she wants.”

She knows what she wants for sure, and she has overcome whatever fears first grabbed her. Megan’s mindset is that of a championship diver.

“You have to be a daredevil,” Megan said. “Fear is not the thing that you can have. Like, you have to know how to have fun and just not let fear get in the way of what you love.”

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She has her eyes on the 2024 Olympics.

Mike Max