The preliminary rounds were finished, and a mere 0.9 point spread separated senior diver Marisa Samaniego from the three-meter final at the 2009 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships on March 20.

She could have mourned her misfortune or her luck.

Instead, Samaniego competed in the consolation final, where she finished with a score of 291.10 en route to earning All-American honorable mention accolades.

What the scoring spreadsheet didn’t tell were the four consecutive dives, executed to perfection, that brought Samaniego ever so close to the final after early movement-wise mistakes put her in an early hole.

“They were probably the four best consecutive dives she’s put together,” dive coach Tom Stebbins said.

Samaniego and three other Bruins notched eight points at the NCAA Championships to help UCLA finish 41st in a field of 48 scoring teams.

As if to match Samaniego’s performance, senior diver Tess Schofield also nabbed All-American honorable mention honors after finishing 10th in the tower competition. Schofield completed her career on a high note after two solid performances on the tower ““ at NCAAs and the come-from-behind victory at the NCAA Zone Meet.

Schofield’s 10th place finish is her highest finish at the championships.

“(The seniors) have all been great representatives of our program and they’ve done an awful lot for our program, so we’re definitely going to miss that,” Stebbins said.

Senior Madeleine Stanton and sophomore Lauren Hall represented the Bruin swimmers in College Station.

Hall made her second consecutive appearance at the NCAA Championships, placing 35th in the 400 IM and 41st in the 200 breaststroke.

But it was a picturesque way of sending off Stanton, who grew up swimming in the Texas pool. A crowd of family and friends lined the stands to watch Stanton swim her final laps as a collegiate athlete. In a sense, it was a fitting conclusion for the senior who had worked diligently and patiently waited for that special trip to the NCAAs.

“It wasn’t surprising, she was ready, and you could spot it,” swim coach Cyndi Gallagher said.

And though improvement in the pool has been a focus that has driven Stanton to new heights, she said there is so much more she will take away from her four years as a UCLA swimmer.

It wasn’t her 35th place finish in the 100 backstroke that Stanton will remember at the NCAAs. Neither will it be the 21st place finish in the 200 back.
The individual times are fleeting.

“You can have individual success, but when you have team success, it means that much more,” Stanton said.