This week’s Pac-12 championship will be the Bruins’ biggest meet of the season so far, and diving coach Tom Stebbins said he wants his athletes to stay focused on their own performances.
“It’s really truly about you against yourself, and if you’re at your very best, the weekend is a success no matter where you finish,” Stebbins said.
No. 21 UCLA swimming and diving (5-5-1, 2-4-1 Pac-12) will travel to Washington to compete in the Pac-12 Swimming and Diving Championships, starting Wednesday afternoon.
Spread over four days, the competition will follow the format of preliminary rounds in the morning and finals at night. Diving will compete in 1-meter Thursday, 3-meter Friday and platform Saturday, while swimming will compete in two to four races per day.
Senior swimmer Jax Shoults said that working as a team and backing each other up help them keep their focus through the long days of competition.
“We keep each other accountable, and make sure that we’re recovering correctly and keeping the spirits high,” Shoults said. “The meet is a really long meet, but when you’re with your teammates it makes it so much fun, and being so close together all the time makes you focused and keeps you in check.”
Swimming coach Cyndi Gallagher said that each swimmer needs to have a plan for what they will do when they get to the pool to prepare, and for during the race. Gallagher said that without this plan, the athletes can be consumed by the moment and left exhausted by the end.
“We just really try to focus on the present, and focus on what you can control, not what you can’t control,” Gallagher said. “You can’t control the crowd, you can’t control the person next to you. It’s really about getting rid of the noise.”
The Bruins will be traveling Tuesday to arrive a day before the meet and get acclimated to Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center. Senior diver Ciara Monahan said that arriving early is very helpful in getting comfortable with the diving boards at the center and getting used to the atmosphere.
“You can try to get that mindset of how it would feel like in the meet and in the competition, and get out a little bit of your nerves before the meet actually starts,” Monahan said.
Stebbins said that he hopes that the experience of his older athletes, especially Monahan, can help prepare the younger girls for this level of competition and the challenges that come with it.
“(Monahan) has been so great … because of the kind of human being that she is,” Stebbins said. “She’s really positive, she’s really approachable … I think she’s a great person to rely on for that kind of information.”