The Bruin divers will travel across town to compete in their first invitational of the year.
No. 23 UCLA swim and dive (5-0, 3-0 Pac-12) will compete in the Trojan Diving Invitational from Nov. 8-10, hosted by USC at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center.
With four out of the five divers on the UCLA roster coming into the invitational with either one season, one meet or no collegiate experience, freshman Katie Shaheen said the youth-filled team is ready to showcase its talent.
Shaheen, a Southern California native, will be making her collegiate debut this weekend, and said she’s looking forward to getting back in the water after suffering a torn ligament before attending UCLA.
“I’m really excited,” Shaheen said. “This will be my first meet after the surgery and I’m also very excited to be competing for UCLA.”
While most of the team is relatively inexperienced, the Bruins do have one diver – junior Alice Yanovsky – who has competed for over two years with the team. Yanovsky said, as one of the more senior divers, she’s been working to help integrate the freshmen into the collegiate level and give advice about this weekend’s invitational.
“We have all been working together to get everyone in the groove,” Yanovsky said. “I have been at the pool, I have seen it a lot and I think that’s the biggest advantage.”
Even though it’s still early in the season, the Bruins are already looking toward the NCAA championship, and diving coach Tom Stebbins said these types of invitationals will be crucial to their success in the spring because of the similar format and layout of the NCAA championship.
“The invites are a way better preparation for us at the end of the year,” Stebbins said. “When we get to the end of the year, our conference championships, our NCAA zone meets and NCAA meets are all single events per day, so you have to really be at your best at one event.”
Yanovsky agreed with Stebbins and said invitationals, like this weekend’s Trojan Diving Invitational, give the Bruins an opportunity to simulate the advantages and disadvantages of what the tough meets will look like and feel like, like the extended time length of each meet.
Shaheen said the relatively short trip to USC will be an advantage for the UCLA divers, because they don’t have to worry about the exhaustion that comes with traveling.
“It makes it a lot easier because you don’t have to worry about that fatigue,” Shaheen said. “It’s a lot nicer that we’re so close.”
Along with UCLA and the host USC, the meet will also include divers from universities such as UNLV, Cal State Bakersfield, Utah, UC San Diego, Fresno State, California Baptist University, Azusa Pacific, California, San Jose State and Cal Poly.
The Bruins will face off with divers from these schools in three events throughout this weekend – the 1-meter and 3-meter springboard, and platform. This will be UCLA’s first time competing on platform, having only competed in the 1-meter and 3-meter in its dual meets versus Arizona and Arizona State last weekend.
The 1-meter springboard competition will take place Friday followed by the 3-meter springboard Saturday. The invitational will wrap up with platform Sunday.