Just days after men’s swimming and diving took home the first-place trophy at the Atlantic 10 Championships, a trio of divers were back on the boards to prepare for a national competition.
Junior Jake Ortiz and freshmen Peter Nachtwey and Nick Tomczyk will compete in the NCAA Diving Zone A Championships from March 5 to 7 after earning qualifying scores earlier in the season. They said new talent on the team has pushed all three to be more competitive and grab higher scores this year.
Earlier this month, GW captured its second straight A-10 title in decisive fashion, totaling 689 points to outscore second-place George Mason by 148. Head diving coach Anthony Crowder said their performance at the A-10s was close to the level he wants the program to be at for Zones.
“I think the important thing I saw was the resilience from them,” Crowder said. “We were able to move along with our list and our dives and stay in the game and focus on the bigger picture.”
The divers helped the program rack up points in the conference tournament, combining for a total of 44 points toward the Colonials’ final score. At last year’s championships, their contribution was only 11 points.
Nachtwey led the way with two podium appearances. He earned two silver medals in his A-10 Championship debut, posting a 298.75 on the 1-meter board and 353.55 on the 3-meter.
“That was the best meet I’ve ever had,” Nachtwey said. “I can really learn from it and take those experiences from A-10 and transfer them to Zones.”
There were no shortage of accolades for Nachtwey during his rookie campaign. He received the A-10 Rookie of the Week four times during the season – the most for a Colonial since the creation of the award in 1998.
Ortiz and Tomczyk also made the championship finals on both events. Freshman Nathaniel Hayward competed in the qualifiers but didn’t make the final for either event.
Crowder said training has been more focused on fine-tuning rather than practicing full dives after a physically and emotionally taxing week at A-10s.
“It’s really a process of getting everything right where we want it so we can put the whole puzzle together,” Crowder said. “That way we have a lot more consistency going through the process of the dive and in the quality of the dive.”
Throughout the season, it was not uncommon for Nachtwey and Ortiz to compete for the top spot on the podium in dual meets. The Colonials swept the podium in their Oct. 21 meet against Boston College, with Nachtwey, Ortiz and Tomczyk going 1-2-3 respectively in the 3-meter board.
Ortiz said competitions between the divers at practice have contributed to the overall improvement of the program. Both Ortiz and Nachtwey have broken program records this season, with Ortiz 330.67 on the 1-meter and Nachtwey 362.63 on the 3-meter.
“I’ve always been the type of person that if there’s somebody there to push me then I will put in even more effort,” Ortiz said. “Not even just Peter, Nick being here too has really pushed me to try more dives and really kind of put a fire under my belt that I haven’t had for the past two years.”
Despite the continued rivalry, Tomczyk said Crowder’s coaching style has had an impact on his development.
“I think having a small program gets a better connection with my teammates and with Anthony,” Tomczyk said. “It’s been pushing me because I don’t only want to do well for myself, but I want to do well for them because they’re here for me.”
Tomczyk, a mechanical engineering student and a NROTC midshipman, said the team has been important in helping him balance school with practice. Both him and Nachtwey cited Ortiz’s support and leadership as helpful factors in their transition to diving at the collegiate level.
“He’s such a hard worker, he’s always in the pool,” Nachtwey said. “He’s gotten a lot better this year and I credit a lot of his success to helping me grow as a diver.”
As the lone upperclassman of the squad, Ortiz qualified for Zones for the first time in his collegiate diving career last season. He placed 24th on the 1-meter and 35th on the 3-meter, and set a program record of 212.35 points in his 19th place finish on platform.
He said his focus during the next week is to tune out his competitors and focus on the intricacies of his dives. For Ortiz, the main lesson to take from his first Zones is to focus on hitting his dives and tune out his competitors.
Nachtwey said the newcomers have a similar attitude and are hoping for their best result of the season rather than a spot on the podium.
“I’m really just trying to build upon what I did at A-10s,” Nachtwey said. “I honestly have no idea what to expect, so I just want to be able to be happy with the dives I put down.”