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Diving teams to compete for shot at NCAA championship

Layton Dudley

The men's and women’s diving teams will compete for the chance to advance to the NCAA Championships on Monday, facing competition from most of the SEC, the ACC and several regional independents. CW | Layton Dudley

Tyler Waldrep

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Equipment failure, a fire and hours of travel have all tested Alabama’s diving teams this year. The final test for the teams is a trip to Athens, Georgia, to compete for spots in the NCAA Championships.

Beginning Monday, the men’s and women’s diving teams will compete for the chance to advance to the NCAA Championships. In order to qualify the divers will face competition from most of the SEC, the ACC and several regional independents.

Sophomore Taylor Zablocki said the team is not satisfied with how the season has played out so far. Earlier this season, a fire in the aquatic center’s control room forced the team to spend roughly half of its practice time traveling to a facility in Birmingham. She said the fire definitely affected the team’s ability to perform, but the trials the divers faced brought them closer together.

“Our support is our biggest strength,” she said. “I think we have each other’s backs.”

Coach Pat Greenwell said the diving teams are going through a down year. He said all the obstacles the teams have faced this season have likely contributed to the lack of success, but those challenges should not be used as excuses.

“Competitively across the conference, we have not made a showing, a showing being in the top eight,” he said.

Qualifying for the NCAA Championship will be a little different this year. Divers will compete in a regional meet like usual, but more divers can qualify from each meet than before. Greenwell said these changes could easily result in more than twice the number of divers advancing to compete in nationals. He said these changes should provide the diving team with a chance to be represented in the championship if the athletes can execute properly 
in Athens.

Sophomore Brent Sagert said proper execution in diving often comes down to mental preparation. He said the teams did not practice as much as they would have liked, but they can still succeed if they believe in themselves.

“We’ve been training all year for this,” he said. “We know what we are supposed to be doing. We know how to do our dives.”

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Diving teams to compete for shot at NCAA championship