UCLA swimming and diving may have 13 freshmen, but it’s the upperclassmen that have been leading the team.
The No. 25 Bruins (4-3, 1-2 Pac-12) have seen strong performances from senior diver Ciara Monahan, junior diver Eloise Belanger and senior swimmer Katie Grover through their fifth week of the season.
Last weekend at the Trojan Diving Invitational, Monahan and Belanger finished first and second in the 3-meter dive, respectively. Belanger won the 1-meter competition as well.
The two experienced divers have posted the best scores and places on the team in many competition appearances so far this season.
Monahan has racked up two third-place finishes, three second-place finishes and two first-place wins this season. She has appeared in all five of the Bruins’ diving competitions this year.
“I think (my) goals are definitely making it to the NCAAs again, hopefully to a semifinal, and even going further after that,” Monahan said.
Monahan competed in the Pac-12 championships last season, but did not advance past the preliminary events. She said she is looking to improve in her final season.
Belanger has been successful this season as well. She boasts two second-place finishes and three wins so far this year.
“(Belanger) is really strong (on platform), but she’s also really good on springboard,” said diving coach Tom Stebbins after the UC Santa Barbara duel meet. “(She) is great. She was just so solid.”
After the trip to Arizona and Arizona State earlier this month, Belanger said she did well at her last difficult dive for the 3-meter competition – something she said she put a lot of work into last year.
“You would think at the beginning of the year it would not be as good, but I find myself doing it fine, and I think that’s positive,” Belanger said.
The swim team has been led by Grover, who secured first-place finishes not only in her 100-yard butterfly and 200-yard butterfly events, but also in 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard-freestyle.
“One of our big things that we’re focusing on every year, especially (as) an upperclassman, is just to get better every day, just a little bit better every day and at every meet,” Grover said.
Grover had a strong performance at the Pac-12 swimming and diving championships last year, including a fourth-place finish in the women’s 800-yard free relay.
UCLA swim and dive will continue its season in two weeks when it travels to compete in Texas Invitational and Georgia Fall Invitational.