Of the seven athletes on the UCLA diving roster, four of them will be traveling to Flagstaff, Arizona, to compete in the NCAA Zone E Diving Championships this week.
There are five region-based zones in the NCAA. The No. 21 UCLA diving team (5-5-1, 2-4-1 Pac-12) will be sending divers to compete in Zone E, which includes Hawaii, Alaska and the region west of the Rocky Mountains. The event will run from Monday to Wednesday.
Junior diver Eloise Belanger, who won both the 1-meter and 3-meter competitions at the Pac-12 Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships last weekend, has qualified to compete in all three collegiate diving events. These include the 1-meter, 3-meter and platform competitions.
“I feel really good,” Belanger said. “Some of the stuff I was fixing has worked well, but there’s still some other things that weren’t perfect that I hope to improve on.”
This will be Belanger’s third time diving in the NCAA Zone E Championships. She has qualified to move on to the NCAA championships in each of her two previous appearances in the event. This is also the third time that Belanger has qualified to dive in all three events at Zones.
Senior diver Ciara Monahan will be joining her in Flagstaff. Monahan has qualified to dive in both the 1-meter and 3-meter events. This will be Monahan’s fourth time attending Zone E qualifiers. Monahan did not advance to the NCAA Championships in 2015 or 2016. In 2017, she advanced in both the 1-meter and 3-meter dives.
Junior diver Traci Shiver and freshman diver Alice Yanovsky will be making their NCAA Zone E Diving Championships debuts.
Yanovsky will be diving in the 3-meter event. At the Pac-12 Championships, Yanovsky finished 12th in the preliminaries for this event.
Shiver will be diving in the platform event. She said that diving in Zone E finals puts her one step closer to her season goal: competing in the NCAA Championships.
“Zones is a stepping stone to get (to NCAA Championships) and knowing that I have an opportunity to make it is exciting,” Shiver said.
The Bruins will be attempting to qualify for spots in the NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships and will be scored individually. They will be diving alongside 96 total divers from 26 schools.
The top 18 divers in each of the preliminaries events will advance to the final events. The divers’ scores from two lists will be added together for a final score and the top divers in each event will advance to the NCAA championships.
The UCLA divers saw this format in the Bruin Diving Invitational earlier this season.
Diving coach Tom Stebbins said the divers have been preparing throughout the season for this time, and that they are ready.
“Really, at this point the work is already in,” Stebbins said. “There’s not a whole lot that we can or have to do in terms of adjustments. As they say, the hay’s in the barn.”