Ashland native Megan Neyer’s diving career continues to stand as the benchmark.

The NCAA recently selected the former University of Florida star as the Division I Most Outstanding Diver of the last quarter-century.

The honor was bestowed in conjunction with the NCAA’s 25th anniversary celebration of women’s championships.

Neyer, now 43, won NCAA titles in the one-meter and three-meter diving competition an unprecedented eight times from 1982-86. She remains the all-time winningest diver, male or female, in NCAA history.

“NCAA stuff is very special to me,’’ said Neyer, who lives in Decatur, Ga. “It was a tremendous experience being part of a team, getting a great education and having just a great college experience.’’

Neyer was chosen by an NCAA panel consisting of current and former coaches and athletics administrators.

“One of the exciting things about it is having the outstanding swimmer and diver from the same team,’’ Neyer said.

Neyer and Tracy Caulkins, who was named the top Division I swimmer, were teammates at Florida. As freshmen, they led the Gators to the inaugural NCAA championship in 1982.

“It was a pretty amazing year for us and the University of Florida,’’ said Neyer, who moved from Ashland to Southern California at age 16 to train with Olympic coach Ron O’Brien.

In the summer after her freshman year at Florida, Neyer won the World Diving Championship on the 3-meter springboard.

Along with her string of NCAA titles, Neyer twice earned Academic All-America honors. In 1986, she completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology and received the NCAA Top Six Award, which recognizes six student-athletes across all sports on the basis of academics, athletics, leadership and character.

Neyer called the award a highlight in her collegiate career.

“What I value about that the most is that I really did want to balance my athletics and academics,’’ she said. “I felt strongly about the positive impact of sport in preparing me for life after sport.’’

Neyer, who won 15 U.S. National diving championships and multiple international titles in a 14-year career, earned a Master’s degree in counselor education from Florida in 1990. She added a doctorate in ‘94.

Currently, Dr. Neyer is president of Total Performance Systems, a company that specializes in individual, team and organizational performance. She is a licensed and nationally certified counselor, as well as a trained mediator.

Neyer was inducted into the University of Florida Hall of Fame in 1996. The following year, she became a member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Also in ‘97, Neyer was honored at UF as an Alumna of Outstanding Achievement, one of 47 women representing the 85,000 women who have graduated from the university since 1947.

ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at rstanley@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2671.

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