Divers look to qualify for nationals


With the swim and dive season coming to a close, BYU’s divers head to the Air Force Academy in Colorado to compete at the Zone E Diving Championships this week from March 8-10.

Performing well at Zone Championships qualifies divers to compete in the men’s or women’s NCCA championships later this month. There are five zones and placement in each zone is based on location.

Instead of competing as a team, divers compete for individual spots. For this year’s zone diving competition in Zone E, seven men and eight women can qualify for the national championships. Four of these spots for both men and women are automatic qualifiers, while the others are based on how well divers have done in past NCAA competitions.

Seven divers from BYU are competing in Colorado, four men and three women, including Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Athlete of the Year, Brandon Watson. The other divers heading to Colorado are Kevin Dreesen, Travis Day, Matt Denkers, Syrena Miskin, Dayna Christensen and Raleigh Williams.

“It’s our chance to qualify [for nationals],” Watson said, “so ideally it’d be great if we could all go.”

The MPSF Athlete of the Year award was announced at the conference meet in California, where all the swimming took place, though the divers were all competing in Colorado, so Watson was not even present at the time. Normally the award is given to both an outstanding swimmer and a diver. This year it was awarded to just one athlete, and that athlete was Watson.

“It was kind of interesting [to not be there],” Watson said. “It’s a great honor to win that award and to represent BYU. It’s been great for all of us.”

Watson is in his final year competing for BYU and has had a spectacular senior season. In nearly every meet during the regular season, Watson placed in the top three in either the 1-meter or 3-meter, and often both. At the MPSF Championships, he swept both the 1-meter and 3-meter boards and took second in the men’s platform.

Zone diving for BYU takes place at the same pool as conference, which Watson thinks could definitely help since all of BYU’s divers did great at conference. At least one diver from BYU placed in the top three in every event and the Cougars took first in every event but men’s platform. Christensen swept the 1-meter and 3-meter boards and Williams  placed first on platform.

“Hopefully we can carry that motivation over to zones,” Watson said. “We have a feel for what’s there.”

Following zone diving, the NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championship takes place March 15-17 in Auburn, Ala., while the men’s competition takes place March 22-24 in Seattle.


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