Diana Kolb hasn’t always been a fan of the water. In fact, she admits to being “terrified of drowning” when she first started the sport of swimming.

Time, along with countless hours of practice in the pool, certainly have a way of changing things. Now she’s the one striking fear into the rest of the competition.

That work, along with plenty of talent, paid off on Saturday morning at the Lufkin Boys & Girls Club as the Pineywoods Community Academy senior inked a letter of intent to compete for North Texas starting next season.

“From where I started to where I am now, I’m really excited to get to this day,” Kolb said. “It took a lot of work and a lot of people helping me along the way. This was a great opportunity.”

That opportunity didn’t come easily. Although she knew she had a chance to continue her swimming career at the collegiate level, her ultimate goal was to get the opportunity at a Division I school.

Once she saw the finish line to her goal, there was no stopping there.

“This is the first year when I really thought I had this chance,” Kolb said. “I knew if I wanted it, then I had to work at it. Between swimming and taking a full load of college classes, I pretty much had to give up my social life. I’m not complaining because I love it, but it takes a lot.”

Kolb has competed with the Ambush Swim Team over the past several years and coach Eddie Adams said her work in the pool is apparent.

“This has been a process and a journey for her,” Adams said shortly after the signing ceremony. “She does two-a-days three times a week where she’s here from 5:30-7 in the morning then back from 4-6 in the afternoon. She already had a workout this morning. Getting to this level isn’t easy.”

Kolb admits some of the toughest work was just in getting started. From her early fear of water, she now feels at home at the pool.

Signing in front of a proud group of family, friends, teammates and coaches, she reflected on some of the journey that will take her to Denton later this year.

“I had a swim instructor that was very, very patient with me,” Kolb said. “Because of that, I learned to swim and really love it. Now you couldn’t keep me out of the water.”

Once at North Texas, Kolb plans on having a double major in psychology and kinesiology where she intends on eventually becoming a sports psychologist.

She said the school seemed like a perfect fit both for academics and athletics.

“Going in, I didn’t know anything about the campus,” Kolb said, “but once I saw it, I loved the campus and the people. Everyone was really nice. It’s a big enough campus, but it’s not so big that it’s going to overwhelm you.”

Her next journey, in addition to high school graduation, will be competing at the Olympic Trials in Omaha.

In order to get to that goal, she has to trim a few more seconds off her time, yet another goal for a competitor who doesn’t back down from a challenge.

Following that, it will be time to take her talents to North Texas.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Kolb said. “It will be a different kind of challenge, but I’ll be ready for it.”

Josh Havard’s email address is josh.havard@lufkindailynews.com.

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