While the top competitors on the UCLA swim team are busy preparing for next week’s NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships, the two divers who hope to advance must face one additional hurdle: the NCAA Zone E Diving Championships.
Senior Laura Winn and freshman Paulina Guzman will be the sole representatives for UCLA, as the other qualifier, freshman Haley McNamara, will stay home to tend to the minor injuries that have plagued her all season. Guzman will be competing in both springboard events, while Winn will also be competing on platform.
Winn hopes to improve on her performance from last year’s zone meet, where she finished sixth on tower (508.00) and 10th on 3-meter (561.35). Coming off a strong performance at last month’s Pac-10 Championships ““ her score of 269.20 earned her a third-place finish and a bid to the 2012 U.S. Olympic trials ““ she will likely be a top finisher in the zone, which encompasses the entire West Coast.
Because of the complicated system for allocation of bids to NCAAs, the divers will have to place first on platform, top three on 3-meter or top two in 1-meter to advance. Guzman, a Guatemalan national team member, remains relatively untested on the U.S. championship circuit, but her fifth-place finish on the 3-meter at Pac-10s suggests she will need a career performance to qualify for NCAAs.
Should Winn or Guzman place high enough to qualify for NCAAs, they will join the seven swimmers who qualified for the three-day championship meet in Austin, Texas next week.
Compiled by Liz Schneider, Bruin Sports contributor.