Support our high school sports coverage by becoming a digital subscriber. Subscribe now
ORANGE COUNTY GIRLS ATHLETE OF THE YEAR 2022-23
Name: Teagan O’Dell
School: Santa Margarita
Notable highlights: O’Dell set the national high school record in the 200-yard individual medley, and received a humbling acknowledgment a few days later.
While competing at the TYR Pro Series meet in Mission Viejo, O’Dell crossed paths with the 2020 Olympian whose record she broke. And to O’Dell’s amazement, Torri Huske recognized her.
“She was warming down (at the end of the meet) and she kind of looked up and said, ‘Hey, Teagan, congrats on the record,’ ” O’Dell recalled. “I was star-struck when she called me because I was ‘Oh, my gosh, she recognized me.’ It was really nice of her to do. She is an amazing girl.”
O’Dell was amazing in her own right in the spring. In addition to the national record, O’Dell set four Orange County records, three state marks and paced the county in six of the eight individual events.
O’Dell also helped the Eagles, who won CIF-SS Division 1 and CIF State championships, set the national high school record in the 200 freestyle relay.
The Mission Viejo Nadadores’ club swimmer was so dominant and versatile her season conjured memories of the legendary Janet Evans, who raced at El Dorado High in the late 1980s.
“Teagan’s high school season would arguably be the greatest O.C. swim season in history,” Santa Margarita co-coach Ron Blanc said. “You would have to go to Janet Evans’ senior year to see that kind of domination.”
O’Dell broke Huske’s 2021 national record by clocking a time of 1 minute, 53.38 seconds at the CIF State championships in mid-May. At the same meet, she broke the Orange County record in the 50 freestyle (22.40) and lowered her county record in the 100 backstroke (50.96) for third time in two weeks.
In late March at the Loyola Invite, she became the first county girl to break one minute in the 100 breaststroke by touching in a county-record 59.73.
Two days later in a nonleague meet against Rosary, she clocked a county-leading and school-record time in the 500 free of 4:42.90.
O’Dell accomplished it all with a zest for high school swimming. The enthusiasm surfaced in her cheering for teammates, colorfully-painted fingernails and of course, her racing.
“Going into some of the dual meets I had more of an open mind and was ‘It’s an opportunity to race’ so at some of the dual meets I put on my (high-technology) suit and I just went for it,” she said.
“All my success I would give out to my teammates and coaches. My coaches on the Nadodores, especially Coach Logan (Redondo), have really helped me mature my swimming since August.”
The records, and the Olympian recognition, followed.