BERKELEY - My final days at Cal are quickly coming to a close. With a schedule absent of weights and water time, my days are no longer determined by diving. It's a foreign feeling to have so much free time and it certainly has taken some getting used to. Although I used to be relieved when I had a couple days off diving while training, it's a bit uncomfortable having so much freedom. My life has been structured by sports since I was six, so settling into a new routine has been, well, unsettling.
As my teammates head to the pool for practice, I have started taking up a random assortment of classes at the Recreational Sports Facility. Bobby, a fellow senior diver, typically tries out new classes with me, from "Core Blast" to "Aqua Challenge." Never sure what we are walking into, it's refreshing to see different ways to incorporate exercise in our lives, as we learn on our feet and compare the classes afterwards. Although no class competes with diving, it's gratifying to find inventive ways to challenge my body outside of the pool.
For those still in the water, practice has been centered around getting back to the basics. After season, it is essential to strengthen your fundamentals in order to set up for productive postseason training. Once a couple of weeks have been dedicated to more elementary dives, optionals (a.k.a. the harder dives) will be incorporated into the workouts again. Until then, simpler dives will be performed, allowing Todd and the divers to focus on hurdle work, entrees and perfecting the small details that can get overlooked when a harder dive is introduced.
The entire team met off the pool deck on Saturday to recognize individuals' performances and the team's overall success this season at our annual banquet. The slight rain did not deter the entire swimming and diving team from playing kickball at the softball stadium as our parents mingled. Once everyone was full from a seemingly endless supply of tacos, we headed inside to start the official banquet festivities.
Throughout my four years at Cal, I am constantly inspired by the commitment to excellence that each faculty member demonstrates. It is motivating to see such outspoken and accomplished women, such as Sandy Barbour, Teresa Gould, Teri McKeever and Kristen Cunnane, play a defining role in the development of not only the swimming and diving team, but of the entire Cal Athletics program. After they recognized their most memorable moments from this season, it was our turn to introduce ourselves and reflect on the year.
The divers went up as a group first, where we informed everyone of general information about our hometown and academic pursuits. Next, we shared what three adjectives describe ourselves best, our favorite memory from this season and how we've grown as an athlete. I have found myself drawing back to situations like these as I enter job interviews and the "real world." Not only is it entertaining to hear what my fellow teammates say, but the process is productive in developing confidence with public speaking. Similar to almost everything I've participated in as a member of this team, things seem to always carry a deeper importance that can be applied to my life outside of sports.
With the last week of classes underway, I'm beginning to grapple with the fact that neither student nor athlete will be words used to describe me anymore - in a formal sense at least. However, I will forever call myself a Golden Bear and am willing to learn how to love the sidelines as I watch my fellow teammates excel in the years to come.
BERKELEY - A lot has happened since I last checked in! As I'm sure many of you already know, WE ARE NATIONAL CHAMPIONS! By "we," I mean both the women's and men's teams! An accomplishment like this has only happened twice before in college swimming history, showcasing the talent and success that Cal swimming and diving fosters for both the men and the women. Although I didn't attend NCAAs, I took advantage of the live-streaming video online, hooking up my computer to my family's big screen TV. Since I was home for spring break, it felt a little out of place to be celebrating the moment with my parents rather than sharing it with my teammates; however, as I look back now, it seems fitting, seeing as my parents are the ones who sacrificed much of their time at the sake of my sport, allowing me to be in this monumental position in the first place. Winning the second national title in three years reminds me of the rewards that come with consistent dedication and drive to achieve goals set not only at the beginning of each season, but at the start of one's collegiate career. I feel fortunate to have ended my career as a Cal athlete on such a remarkable note.
My last diving meet was just a week before NCAAs at the NCAA Zone Qualifying Championships, held in Minneapolis, Minn. After a long day of traveling beginning on Tuesday at 4 a.m., we dropped our luggage off at the hotel and walked over to the pool for our first practice. The hotel was in a great location, only a quick walk away from the pool and connected to a Starbucks and an Applebee's. Although I never had been to an Applebee's before this trip, I quickly became familiar with their menu after our fourth visit in three days. Needless to say, we found little reason to leave far from our hotel, as the majority of our trip consisted of diving, eating, coffee and much needed sleep after the days were done.
Our first day of competition began on Thursday, with three meter for the women and one meter for the men. Despite her pretty impressive tumble out of the hot tub, Kelsey finaled for the girls and Tyler and Tom finaled for the boys. On Friday, the men and women switched events, where Molly finaled on one meter and Bobby and Tom made it into finals on three meter. Keeping with tradition, the meet ended with the platform event, which plays a large part in determining what spots/divers advance to NCAAs. Unlike the 18 spots available for finals on springboard, platform only allows the top 12 finishers in prelims to compete in finals. Kahley and I were able to achieve this, with her in eighth place and myself in seventh. After finals, I jumped up two spots to fifth place and Kahley maintained her position in eighth. Bobby had a solid showing on tower as the only Cal man competing that day, earning 12th overall.
For me, the last day of competition was surreal. I couldn't quite fathom the thought that this was the last time I would be competing, or doing at all, these dives again. I cannot imagine a more appropriate event to end on, since I've had so many personal battles and triumphs with platform in the past. For a period of time, I never thought I would be competing the dives in my final list on 10 meter, proving to myself that I have the physical and mental capacity to overcome things I had not even imagined.
When the meet began, I found myself obsessing over the thought that every correction, every drill, every dive, was the last time I would be doing it. I was attempting to mentally document exactly what was going on around me, making sure to memorize everything I was doing, for one last time. However, as the final event started, I realized that it was not necessarily the exact actions of myself and others that I wanted to remember, but the emotions I was experiencing. Once I let go of the "this is the last..." internal dialogue, I was able to commit to the moment rather than obsess with preserving a memory. The pressure of performing well in finals was minimized, knowing that regardless of how I did, I would feel accomplished with everything I have achieved not only at Cal, but throughout my diving career altogether. Excitement coupled with a subtle melancholic feeling followed me as I walked up to 10 meter for my last dive, knowing that closure was coming quickly. I ended up nailing my last dive and setting a new school record, bringing me full circle from my first tower meet at Cal, where I first broke the platform record. I felt grateful that my coach, Todd, whom I have known since high school, was there to see me through my last meet and support me as I developed as a diver.
The future of Cal diving continues to look bright as the remaining members prepare for practice to start up again this week. While they get back into the swing of training, seniors Tom, Bobby and I will be figuring out how to function in life, sans diving. I'll keep you all posted on how life as a "regular" student at Cal develops, absent of the constant chlorine scent and wet hair to class. Until then, GO BEARS!
BERKELEY -I am always surprised by how much I miss Berkeley after being away, even if only for a week. Although King County Aquatics Center in Federal Way, Wash., has an impressive aquatics complex, the town itself lacked the quirky characteristics that make Berkeley irreplaceable. However, Federal Way was able to surprise us all with snow, making our van rides to and from practice eventful as we drove past piles of fresh snow while bundled up in our parkas. Although there wasn't quite enough snow for us to make a snowman, everyone managed to throw a couple of snowballs while walking to and from the van.
After a day of practicing in the new pool, the men started off the competition on Wednesday morning while the women watched. For both men and women, three meter was first, followed by one meter and finishing with platform over three days of competition. With 28 women and 19 men entered, the diving well was full of talented divers ready to compete.
In order to qualify for finals, one must finish within the top eight places after the preliminary round. Out of the seven women from Cal, six of us made it into at least one final. Compared to years past, we were able to contribute substantially more points to Cal's second-place finish, illustrating our development as individual divers as well as overall growth as a team. Only 22 points separated Cal from the win, as Stanford claimed the Pac 10 championship title.
Feelings of disappointment act as motivation to strive for success in the future, knowing that a chance for redemption is only a few weeks away at the NCAA Championship meet in Austin, Texas. For diving, before we make it to NCAAs, we must attain a high enough score to compete in a NCAA Zone qualifying meet, where the top finishers will then represent their school at the Championships. At Zones, we will compete for a predetermined number of qualification spots allocated to each zone; for our zone, there are seven spots for the men and six spots for women. The process is a bit confusing, but the break down is basically as follows:
1st place on Platform = first spot
1st place on 3 meter = second spot
1st place on 1 meter = third spot
2nd place on 3 meter = fourth spot
2nd place on 1 meter = fifth spot
3rd place on 3 meter = sixth spot
3rd place on 1 meter = seventh spot
Unlike swimming, there is no set number (be it time or score) that guarantees your place at NCAAs. No one will know exactly who will be competing in Texas until the meet is over, generating a shared feeling of anxiety and excitement around the pool deck entering the final day of competition, which is always reserved for the platform event.
A week from today, Bobby, Tom, Tyler, Molly, Kelsey, Kahley and I will be flying out to Minneapolis, Minn., for the NCAA Zone E Championships. With a heightened pressure to perform well, it becomes imperative that we remain focused and remember key corrections leading into this qualifying meet. Thus far, almost 30 men and 57 women are registered for the meet, making this the largest meet we will attend this year. Although many opponents may seem intimidating, I feel confident that our team will be able to showcase everything we've learned this year successfully. Wish us luck for next weekend and GO BEARS!
BERKELEY -Senior diver Laura Sanford wrote her latest entry on Feb. 21, the day before the California women's swimming and diving team headed north for the Pac-10 Championships. This week's meet will also include the men's conference diving championships.
With my bags packed, itinerary printed, and alarm clock set for first thing tomorrow morning, I feel ready for our week-long trip to Federal Way, Wash., for the Pac 10 Championships. Aside from my freshly washed Cal gear and stacked suitcases, it's safe to say that I feel most prepared for this meet thanks to our coach Todd instilling confidence in myself and each of my teammates throughout the season. Although a new coach to Cal this year, I have known Todd since high school as an assistant coach at my club team, the Mission Viejo Nadadores. Upon learning that Todd would take on the job as Cal's new head coach, I had zero hesitation in knowing that this year would be a success for both myself and the entire Cal diving program. The common feelings of anxiety and uncertainty that many athletes have when meeting a new coach were immediately erased as I recalled the lively attitude that Todd brought to the pool deck daily, instantly inspiring me to take on his energetic and optimistic outlook. Quickly, my teammates understood my initial excitement as the their relationships with Todd developed and the season progressed.
Well versed in both springboard and platform diving, Todd has pushed each of us to previously unknown limits, motivating us to challenge ourselves during each workout. Despite my former mental blocks on platform, Todd was able to encourage me to continue learning new dives on 10 meter and trust his vision. The trust that a diver has with their coach is essential in producing a productive coach-athlete relationship, leading me to be grateful that I have such a connection with Todd's coaching style. As I look at the advancements made by each of my teammates from September to now, I feel hopeful for our upcoming competition and reassured for the future of Cal diving.
After our last practice before heading out to Federal Way, I asked a couple of my teammates how they were feeling about the meet this week. Despite slight feelings of apprehension as they approach their first Pac 10 Championships, both freshmen girls are primarily excited to see what Pac 10s has to offer and experience the environment that everyone keeps talking about. Lena is looking forward to all of the team bonding that occurs over travel trips, while Kahley can't wait to indulge in unlimited pancakes at the hotel breakfast. Unfazed by more cold weather, Kelsey is crossing her fingers for snow just outside Seattle as Bobby awaits his visiting parents who are attempting to escape the cold, flying in to watch from Boston.
Although inside team jokes and familiar faces do have a way of making travel trips memorable, it is safe to say that all nine of us competing this weekend are mostly looking forward to just that - competing. I look forward to updating you all on our results and GO BEARS!
BERKELEY - I could not imagine a better way to walk out of the Spieker pool after my last dual meet on Saturday, as I shook the hands of the defeated Stanford team and embraced my overjoyed teammates. With a bouquet of blue and gold flowers and the traditional Build-A-Bear senior gift in my arms, I began reminiscing about not only my time as a Golden Bear, but my history with diving altogether.
Like many divers, I started out as a gymnast. Like many gymnasts, I also got injured. In attempt to rehab my broken back (braces at 13 don't even compare to a back brace!), I started diving. Quickly, I realized that my passion for gymnastics smoothly transferred to the diving board, as I was able to flip and spin carefree (and most importantly, pain free) again. Diving was limited in my home town of San Diego, leading me to travel to Mission Viejo and train with the Nadadores six days a week, where I progressed on both springboard and platform around elite-level athletes and world-class coaches. Prior to having my driver's license, I would catch up on schoolwork or sleep (whichever was most pressing at the time) on an hour-long train ride to and from practice. Despite missed social events and hours of travel time, I cannot think of a more rewarding way to spend my high school career. After four years of diving in college, my feelings have only intensified.
After the BIG win against Stanford, the most rewarding aspect for me was being able to experience the moment with my teammates and family. Although I have been diving since my sophomore year in high school, my older brother, David, had never seen me dive before. Realizing that time was running out to watch me compete, he decided to take a weekend trip to Berkeley, thankfully leaving the cold weather behind in his current hometown of New York City. It was exciting to have my brother watch me compete, as he has inspired me throughout my college career. When stressed with school and training, David has reminded me of the overwhelming sense of accomplishment he experienced after his four years as a swimmer at Harvard ended. With only Pac 10s and NCAA Zone Championships left, I finally began to understand what David was talking about as my last home meet finished.
Along with my brother and mom, Kelsey's family, Lena's family and Kahley's family were able to make it to Spieker, witnessing Cal beat Stanford for the first time since 2006. The night prior to the meet, all of the female divers and a couple of parents met up at Trattoria La Siciliana, an AMAZING Italian restaurant on College Avenue. The meal was full of food and laughs - and not just because the waitress somehow managed to pour pasta sauce on Rachel's head. We all managed to indulge in a free meal. Oh the perks of family visits!
Everyone's visiting family also made it out to Stanford on Sunday morning to watch us practice platform. After a productive practice, Todd let my brother run up to 10 meters and jump off, ending the weekend on a fun note. A successful week of training and women's win against Stanford motivates the men's team to accomplish their goals as they face the Cardinal this weekend. I hope to see you in the crowd as I cheer on the men's swimming and diving team at 1 p.m. on Saturday, rain or shine! As always, GO BEARS!
BERKELEY - Our last dual meet of the season (which will be the last dual meet EVER for the seniors!) is almost here. With just a couple more days until our big meet against Stanford, this past week of training has been crucial. We have spent the last handful of practices focusing on perfecting our list and fine tuning any last minute changes. As Pac-10s and the NCAA Zones competitions inch closer, learning new dives is placed on the back-burner in order for us to concentrate on the dives we will be competing.
For college meets, each diver performs six dives from five different categories on one meter and three meter. For platform, women compete five dives while the men compete six dives, all from different categories. For those of you who are less familiar with how diving works, the categories are as follows: front, back, reverse, inward, twister, and armstand (for platform only). The front and back actions are exactly what you would imagine, but inwards and reverses are a bit trickier. Reverses are when you face the water and jump forward while spinning backward. Inwards, on the other hand, is when you stand backward and flip forward, towards the board. Twisters can be done in a variety of positions, and armstands are the handstands that you see people doing off the edge of platform.
When competing six dives, you can repeat the same category twice, but it cannot be the exact same dive. For example, on one meter I compete front one and a half flips pike with one twist as a dive, and later perform front one and a half flips pike with two twists. Even though both dives are categorized as twisters, I'm able to double up on that action since they have different amounts of twisting involved. Depending on the diver and their preference, the action that one choses to double up on varies in order to generate the most amount of points.
In order to obtain the highest score, judges look for a variety of factors, ranging from height and control to degree of difficulty, and of course, splash. Similar to many other judged sports, the scores range from one to 10, with 10 being the highest reward. As we get closer to high pressure meets, our coach simulates meet situations by scoring our dives in practice. Until our goal scores are met, we continue to repeat the dive in hopes of being ready for the real thing.
Entering the final dual meet of the season, there is a feeling of excitement and anticipation paired with a sense of nostalgia. As a senior, it is surreal to realize that this will be my final time competing at Cal as a Golden Bear. With a strong, charismatic group of seven talented female teammates competing alongside me this weekend, I feel fortunate for the experiences I've encountered as well as optimistic about the future of Cal diving. I hope to see you supporting Cal against Stanford as we recognize all the seniors in their last meet at Spieker this Saturday! GO BEARS!
BERKELEY -After winning both dual meets this weekend against USC and UCLA, it's safe to say that our training has been paying off. Despite the frigid weather over the weekend, we all were able to put together solid lists against our components this weekend. Friday started off against USC, where both the women and men competed. Even though it was only a women's dual meet this weekend, the coaches decided to have both teams dive in order to create less travel time for the USC team. Although the men competed both boards, their scores will not officially count towards the meet until next weekend, when the men's swimming portion is held. For dual meets, diving points are distributed as followed: First place earns 9 points, second place equals 4 points, third place equals 3 points, fourth places equals 2 points, and fifth place equals 1 point. Each of these points carry over to the swim team's point total, thus contributing to the overall win (thinking positively!) of the entire competition.
This past weekend, Cal trumped USC by 64 points, with a final point score of 182 to 118. Dual meets only allow three divers to "count" towards the swimming point total, but everyone was still able to compete. Regardless if your points assisted the swim team or not, it's always helpful to treat every meet like a championship meet and prepare for situations in the future. Not to mention, it's always more fun having all of your teammates cheering and diving by your side. Kelsey maintained her title as three-meter queen by winning the event with another impressive score of 322.35. Molly was not far behind in second place with 287.48 and I was at their heels in fourth place. One meter was shortly after, with Kelsey earning second, Molly third and myself forth. Rachel looked calm and collected as she successfully competed her first full springboard event of the season, while Lena, Alissa, and Kahley continued to improve on their lists.
Not only was it inspiring to see each other do so well after the first day, but we had some familiar faces in the stands as well! Thanks to parents' weekend, many of us were able to give our family an excuse to come watch us dive. Our frozen fingers and endless goosebumps made them feel less cold when they thought it was getting chilly out. However, we do get to indulge in four steaming hot showers in between dives, so I might have to call it even.
After the USC meet was over, a parent-athlete dinner was scheduled for everyone on the team. Held in the Haas Club Room, we all had a chance to load up on carbs for Saturday's meet while mingling with each other's families. After eating, it was time to practice the always important skill of public speaking. Although dreaded by many, head swim coach Teri McKeever knows the importance of overcoming our fears, both in and out of the pool. While standing in the center of the room with a microphone in hand, we shared some general information about ourselves and expressed a memorable moment or a lesson learned while at Cal thus far. Despite initial presentation jitters, it is always entertaining to listen to my teammates share their experiences and swap stories. As the announcements ended and desserts were eaten, it was time to head back home and rest for day two.
Since UCLA does not have a men's swimming and diving program, the boys hit the weight room Saturday morning at 9 a.m. while the girls began warmed up on the pool deck. All of the girls had the opportunity to dive again, resulting in Kelsey receiving second on three meter and one meter, Molly finishing third on three meter and fourth on one meter, and myself earning sixth on three meter and fifth on one meter. Our point contributions assisted in the win over UCLA, with a final score of 168.5 to 131.5.
Rather than have the day off, Sunday morning started with a van ride to Stanford, followed by an intense platform workout. Grayson started off the workout with a new dive on seven meter, challenging everyone else to keep up with his pace. Soon after, Tyler was up on seven-meter himself, performing a back two and a half pike for the first time. Bobby ended the workout with yet another new dive, learning a back two and a half flips pike with two and a half twists off 10 meter, an impressive and high degree of difficulty dive. Friendly competition motivates us to push each other and break away from our comfort zones. Doing so fosters a productive, and surprisingly fun, workout as we influence each other's practice mentality and overall goals.
With a weekend free of competition, our weights workout and pool practices intensify. The women compete against our rival Stanford on Feb. 12 and the men face the Cardinal the week after. As our last dual meet approaches, it becomes imperative that we hone in on smaller mistakes and specific details, allowing us to put together all the pieces towards the end of season
Furthermore, with a weekend free of a swimming and diving competition, I hope you all join Cal Athletics in supporting the Jog for Jill event on Sunday! Have a great week and GO BEARS!
BERKELEY - The Cal dive team has certainly kept busy this past week! On Thursday morning, Molly Hayes, Kelsey Heiken, Lena Kardos, Bobby Sullivan and Tom Henninger packed their suits and shammys for Arizona, ready to face Arizona State University and the University of Arizona swimming and diving teams. After a short plane ride, the team headed over to the ASU campus to check out the pool and diving boards. Being at the pool a day before competition allowed everyone to familiarize themselves with the new surroundings while choosing a board they felt most comfortable on. Although bouncing around each of the diving boards may look like lighthearted fun, much thought goes into selecting the board that provides just the right amount of spring. Depending on how flexible a given board is, a diver needs to adjust the settings of the board to maximize their jumping height. After the initial bouncing around and warm up phase was over, a simple, yet effective, workout was conducted for any last-minute meet preparations.
Similar to many pools, ASU has two three meters and two one meters as well as a complete 10 meter tower. Since platform results do not assist the overall swimming score in dual meets, only springboard was competed over the weekend. The women started off Friday's competition on 1 meter, with Molly finishing third, Kelsey fifth, and Lena sixth. At the same time, the men were competing 3 meter, as Tom finished second and Bobby fourth. After the first board was finished, the men and women switched events for another short warmup and the second round of competition. Kelsey earned the top score on 3 meter with an impressive 302.78 points, accumulating a substantial 32 point lead over her competitors. Lena and Molly both put together consistent lists as well, granting them second and third place finishes, respectively. Clearly, the girls represented Cal well with a 1-2-3 sweep on the three meter, which is always an exciting way to start out the weekend. The boys kept up with the women's accomplishments as Tom placed second on 1 meter and Bobby fourth. After conquering the Sun Devils in both the men and women's dual meet, it was time for a well-deserved dinner and some rest.
The welcoming warm weather and sunshine continued as the Cal team entered the University of Arizona pool on Saturday morning. Despite chapped faces and the inescapable scent of sunscreen, the team was able to perform exceptionally. On 1 meter, Molly placed third, with Lena and Kelsey close behind at fourth and fifth. The women continued their success on 3 meter, as Molly took second, Kelsey fourth and Lena sixth. The men showcased their talent on both boards as well, with Tom finishing first on 1 meter and second on 3 meter while Bobby earned a third place on 1 meter and took the fourth spot on 3 meter. As the meet came to a close, it became evident that the Wildcats' competition did not compare to the Bear's unparalleled strength in the pool, as Cal defeated both the men and women's teams, for the second time in one weekend.
After a stop at one of coach Todd's favorite spots, the classic Chick-fil-A, everyone headed to the Tucson airport. Although the weekend was undoubtedly a success, everyone was itching to get back to Berkeley. Molly, Kelsey, Lena, Bobby and Tom could not have done a better job at representing the Cal diving team over the weekend, consistently demonstrating exceptional athleticism with each dive. The team plans on channeling their momentum this upcoming weekend as Cal takes on USC and UCLA at the Spieker Aquatics Complex on Friday and Saturday. Until then, you'll be sure to spot us in close proximity of the pool, preparing for one of our last dual meets of the season. Hope to see you there, and GO BEARS!
BERKELEY - Senior diver Laura Sanford is writing a brand new blog in the spring semester of 2011 to provide insight into the diving program at California, which has a first-year coach in Todd Mulzet as well as a large roster on both the women's and men's sides. Please check out "Falling Gracefully" as Laura regularly chronicles the diving experience at Cal!
Welcome to the Cal Diving Blog! Over the next couple of months, I'll be here to update and educate you on the exciting life of the Cal diving team as we head into the peak of our season. Over the past three and a half years, I've experienced unforgettable moments on the Cal diving team that have inspired and motivated my everyday life. I'm excited to be able to share some behind the scenes knowledge about diving, a sport that is mysterious to many. Although most of us on the team have some sort of background in gymnastics or swimming, diving is a unique combination of body awareness, agility and strength. The team thrives on an open-minded mentality and an eagerness to learn, as we encourage each other to push through both physically and mentally exhausting workouts each day. With a dynamic group of 12 other teammates, practice never has a dull moment
Before I get much further into the specifics of our team, I'll give you a quick synopsis of the sport with some spark-notes knowledge on diving. We train at the Spieker Aquatics Complex here at Cal, where we have two one-meter diving springboards and two three-meter diving springboards. Before starting off our water workout, we warm up for an hour on our dryland facilities. Various gymnastics mats, a trampoline with spotting belts and a dry-board are used to simulate diving actions prior to performing them in the water. By doing so, we are able to become more aware and comfortable with a new action before attempting it in the water, seeing as a soft mat and spotting belts are much more forgiving than what the cold, concrete water can be.
Although the outcome of a dive can look like a blur of incomprehensible flips and twists to an average onlooker, each action is a perfectly calculated move made based on timing, height and visual cues. These elements come even more into play as you increase difficulty and height to your dives, as seen when we travel to Stanford twice a week for platform practices, since Cal does not yet have a full 10-meter platform. Sunday morning and Wednesday afternoon workouts are devoted to platform, which consists of 5-meter, 7.5-meter, and 10-meter tower. Trust becomes an integral part to this sport as we throw ourselves off a 33-foot building willingly. Luckily, with our amazing coach Todd Mulzet and the support of each other, we're able to accomplish the unimaginable gracefully.
As our season begins to kick into high gear, Todd has been preparing us for the competitions to come over the past months. We all met up in Pasadena, Calif., at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center on Jan. 3 for the start of a rigorous week of training. Although southern California and palm trees seem to promise perfect weather, we found layers of frost on the mats and ice on the trampolines multiple mornings. However, with the help of a couple hot tub breaks, we were able to take full advantage of the amazing facility that the Rose Bowl was offering us, complete with a full platform, four 1-meter springboards, two 3-meter springboards, four dry-boards, two trampolines and two separate hot tubs to alleviate any early morning frostbite.
In between practices, Todd arranged to have delicious catered lunches brought to the pool, thanks to his chef friend, Andrea. It's amazing to see how much everyone can learn and progress in such a short period of time when surrounded by a positive and challenging environment. Although the days proved long and exhausting, no amount of fatigue could compare to the accomplishment and camaraderie built between all of us by the end of the week.
We ended up our training trip at the UCLA Bruin Invite, a three-day meet from Friday to Sunday. Any worries that we may not be tapered enough (or at all, really) to compete successfully were erased as the first day came to a close. The girls had 3-meter first, where four of us made it into finals. Typically, meets just have a semifinals and a finals event, but since our event was so large (38 girls total!), a prelim was conducted as well. With so much diving and only 10-minute breaks in between prelims, semis and finals, extra energy and focus was required to ensure our spot in the finals. For 3-meter, sophomore Kelsey Heiken took 4th, junior Molly Hayes 5th, myself 7th and freshman Lena Kardos 11th. Kelsey started off the meet with an accomplishment as she received her zones qualifying score in the prelims, allowing her to compete at the NCAA Zone Championship meet this March. As the only Cal freshman in the finals, it was impressive to watch Lena hold her own against the older girls, definitely turning heads in the process.
The Cal men all made it to the finals as well, an impressive feat alone. Senior Tom Henninger topped it off by winning the entire 1-meter event, posting the highest 1-meter final score of the meet at 330.80. Senior Bobby Sullivan earned 4th, freshman Tyler Pullen 8th, freshman Grayson Huston 10th and newcomer junior Andreas Santucci 12th. On the second day, the girls competed 1-meter, where Kelsey, Molly and I made it to finals after a close competition in semis and prelims. The boys' 3-meter event was exciting to watch, as both Bobby and Andreas competed brand new dives, which is always a daunting and challenging hurdle to overcome in the middle of competition. In finals, the boys received a 4th place finish from Tom, 7th from Bobby, 8th from Tyler, 9th from Andreas and 10th from Grayson.
Finished with the springboard portion of the competition, Sunday was reserved solely for platform. Since not everyone on our team has a complete list on tower, a couple of my teammates supported on the sidelines while the rest of us climbed up to 10 meter. During the girls' semifinals, freshman Kahley Rowell impressed everyone by placing the top finishing score. It's motivating to see such talent come from all classes of our team, and it gives Cal diving great hope for the future. For finals, I ended up placing 3rd (and earned my NCAA Zone Championship qualifying score), Kahley 4th, junior Alissa Barker 8th and Molly 11th. The boys ended their meet with Tyler receiving 3rd, Tom 4th and Bobby 5th. Although sophomore Rachel Becker was unable to compete due to an injury, she was still a valuable asset to the team as she cheered us on and filmed each of our dives throughout the entire weekend. After an eventful week, it was rewarding to reap the benefits of our hard work. Not only were we able to inform others of our progress, but we grew closer as a team in recognizing how much our dedication paid off.
The winter training trip springboards us into the most intense time of our season, as dual meets begin to flood our schedule. This weekend, we will be competing against Arizona State and University of Arizona. Both schools have strong teams, but I feel confident that we will be able to achieve impressive results at both pools. I look forward to keeping you all posted on how the meet ends up this weekend, along with the progress of Cal diving. GO BEARS!