SAN ANTONIO – Three years ago, as a sophomore at Edison High School, Christian Rangel started diving on a whim.
“My friends recommended I do the sport because I used to do flips on the ground,” Rangel said. “They were always amused by that and said I should give diving a try. When I did try it, I actually fell in love with the sport.”
Now a senior, Rangel has spent the past few years making the most of his newfound passion. Under the direction of diving coach Jody Bayless and head aquatics coach Anthony Gallardo, Rangel has won two consecutive Class 5A regional titles in 1 meter competition and has qualified for two straight UIL State Swimming & Diving Championship meets.
Put simply, Rangel has transformed himself into one of the best high school divers in Texas.
“I’ve grown a lot over the past few years,” Rangel said. “I did have a lot of anxiety when I first started diving because I was scared I’d get hurt. I was scared I wouldn’t be good enough. But over time, the anxiety started to go down. It’s still there. There’s always that voice that tells you, ‘Maybe you’re not good enough.’ But now I know how to overcome it and tuck it away in the back of my mind.”
This year, Rangel is the only aquatics athlete from the San Antonio Independent School District competing at the state level. It’s a feeling he’s familiar with. He was the only SAISD qualifier for last year’s state meet as well. In fact, as he was preparing to depart for his first state appearance last season, Rangel was surprised by the Edison student body. They celebrated his accomplishment by lining the bus route and cheering him on, sending him off to Austin in style.
Then and now, Rangel has always been proud to represent both Edison and SAISD at high school diving’s highest level.
“It means everything to me,” Rangel explained. “Edison is my school. I’ve been there since I was a freshman. I remember people telling me that SAISD wasn’t a district that won a lot of events. So it’s very humbling for me to know that I’m coming from SAISD and am competing with bigger schools.”
Every member of the SAISD aquatics community will tell you Rangel’s impact goes far beyond any scoresheet. His positive energy and relentless work ethic has provided a new standard for all of his teammates and inspired them to train harder. When he finishes his high school career this weekend and officially graduates this spring, that is precisely the legacy he wants to leave behind.
“What I’m hoping to be remembered for is my attitude and my drive for the sport,” Rangel said. “I think that no matter what your background or skill level is, nothing can beat hard work and attitude. It is a big responsibility because when you have so many people that look up to you, and they say, “You give me so much motivation to be the best I can be,” you have to do the best you can do to set that example. It’s an amazing feeling.”
After finishing ninth overall at last year’s Class 5A state meet, Rangel heads into his final high school competition with the weight of expectations. He will compete right here in San Antonio, at Josh Davis Natatorium, on Saturday morning. The pressure to perform has always been on his shoulders, but Rangel is more than willing to carry that burden and embrace the challenge.
“I’m going to think about each dive as if it was the very last dive that I’ll ever do. A fun thing that I like to do is pretend that I’m at the Olympics, and instead of 20 people watching, there’s 1,000 people watching. That gives me confidence and helps me walk in with a chip on my shoulder.”