Diving competed at the NCAA Zone A Championship for the fifth time in six years to close out an impressive season.
Juniors Spencer Bystrom and Jamie Doak both represented the Colonials for their first time at the Zone A Championships while competing in the one- and three-meter dives. Diving Head Coach Christopher Lane said the pair competed well for their first time at the meet.
“I wanted them to really feel like they belonged there, and they definitely showed that they did,” Lane said.
Lane said practicing for the meet consisted primarily of mental preparation rather than physical.
“We talked about what the process of how their competition is going to go and what they need to do to keep themselves in a space,” he said. “And I really wanted them to think about it before we even showed up.”
Bystrom qualified for the meet with career-high scores of 282.35 and 325.85 in both the 1-meter and 3-meter, respectively. He also medaled in both events at the A-10 Championships in February as part of the men’s swimming and diving victory.
At the Zone A Championship, Bystrom placed 29th in the one-meter with a score of 253.85 and 32nd in the 3-meter with a score of 264.05. He said he was happy with his performance overall despite making some mistakes in the reverses category.
“Going into zones I didn’t really have a whole lot of pressure on me because I knew that I, most likely, wasn’t going to make NCAAs unless I had like the best performance of my life by like 100 points,” Bystrom said. “So the pressure wasn’t that bad.”
Bystrom said consistency was an important point for him this year to give himself a good feeling ahead of each meet, especially since he wasn’t so consistent in his youth.
Lane said he was proud of the way Bystrom handled himself and that getting “a couple of eights” on his dives was “pretty incredible.”
Doak also qualified for the meet after setting a program record in the 1-meter with a score of 279.23 and recording a season-high score of 282.98 in the 3-meter. She also recorded two fourth-place finishes at the A-10 Championships to help the women’s team earn their victory.
At the Zone A Championship, she placed 36th in the 1-meter with a score of 240.60 and 51st in the three-meter with a score of 221.50. But Doak said her performance was not what she hoped for.
“I mean, I was pretty content with my one-meter,” Doak said. “I was a little disappointed in my three-meter, but I was injured the whole time. I have a stress fracture in my foot, so I’m currently on crutches and was just kind of dealing with that during it.”
Despite the challenges she faced, Lane said he was proud of Doak’s consistency given the difficulty of the meet.
Doak and Bystrom both said while they were the only two divers at the meet, they received support from their teammates in the form of texts while others watched the livestream on a website called DiveMeets. Bystrom said he still felt like everyone was there.
Lane said the support from the swimming team is indicative of the attitude the team has toward each other all year. He said he’s proud to be a part of a program that values diving just as much as swimming.
“It is a swimming and diving team,” Lane said. “And that’s not always the case in a lot of different colleges. One of my big highlights is the fact that at conference, when our divers are diving, our entire swim team sits in chairs. We are the only team in the A-10 that does that. Like that’s an amazing experience.”
Despite the season recently coming to a close, Bystrom, Doak and Lane are already looking forward to the next season.
“We’re going to have a big team next year, so I’m excited for that, just hoping we can keep the same really positive and supportive team culture,” Doak said.
Lane said the bigger team next year will allow for more competition among the divers and prepare the team for better finishes at meets.
“I want to qualify – I want to take a big group of people to NCAA Zones, so that experience is a lot more fun when you have a big team,” Lane said. “I’m looking forward to seeing some of those records fall. That’s always fun.”