Swim and dive boasts NCAA Zones-qualifying divers following USC meet
No. 23 UCLA swim and dive competed at the Trojan Diving Invitational Friday through Sunday. Juniors Ruby Neave and Alice Yanovsky both recorded NCAA Zones-qualifying scores in the 3-meter springboard competition. (Liz Ketcham/Photo editor)
By Ethan Cruz
Nov. 11, 2019 4:57 p.m.
This post was updated Nov. 11 at 9:43 p.m.
Several Bruin divers reached the final at this past weekend’s invitational.
No. 23 UCLA swim and dive (5-0, 3-0 Pac-12) competed in the Trojan Diving Invitational, hosted by USC, from Friday through Sunday. UCLA was one of two schools to have a diver finish in the top-five of all three events.
Junior Ruby Neave kicked the weekend off with a first-place finish in the 1-meter springboard with a total score of 570.50 – her third 1-meter victory in a row. Neave took fourth in the 3-meter competition Saturday with a score of 610.90.
Her scores of 295.00 in the preliminary round and 315.90 in the final were both enough to qualify her for NCAA Zones in March, making her the only Bruin diver who has qualified for both events so far.
Diving coach Tom Stebbins said he was proud of the work Neave has done to recover from injuries in previous years, and how that work paid off this weekend.
“(Neave) was excellent this weekend,” Stebbins said. “Her road has been extremely long and arduous. I couldn’t be more proud of how she has battled through two long years of injury to put herself into a position to be competitive within our conference.”
Neave, who dealt with injuries the last two years, said being able to record a postseason-qualifying score so early in the season will help relieve some pressure, as well as give her confidence for the rest of the season.
“It’s a really good feeling and it takes the pressure off some of the future meets now that I have that score under my belt,” Neave said. “It also gives me confidence going forward and into the Zones meet itself because it gives me the practice to improve my diving and hopefully get higher scores.”
Neave wasn’t the only Bruin diver who achieved a qualifying score for NCAA Zones this weekend.
Junior Alice Yanovsky qualified for NCAA Zones with her preliminary and final scores in the 3-meter event with a fifth-place score of 592. Yanovsky also obtained a score of 504.65, which earned her seventh in the 1-meter competition.
Yanovsky said she is proud of her 3-meter score and is ready to improve on it for the rest of the season.
“I was super excited to get that score,” Yanovsky said. “I know I can only improve this whole year and that I can now try to beat my own personal record.”
The Bruins also had a few other divers place in various events at the invitational. UCLA was the only school to have all five of its divers reach the final in the 3-meter event.
Freshmen Hannah Butler and Katie Shaheen placed 10th and 12th with total scores of 512.55 and 481.95, respectively, with sophomore Veronica Thompson placing 18th with a total score of 442.75. Thompson also placed fifth in the platform event on the last day of the invitational, making her UCLA’s highest scorer in the event.
Yanovsky said the team’s energy going into the meet led to the Bruins’ high scores in all of the events.
“It was really, really good,” Yanovsky said. “We were all really supportive and there for each other throughout the whole thing and I think that’s a really good atmosphere to be in.”
Even with the Bruins’ success at the invitational, Neave said there is always more they can improve on.
With UCLA’s divers next set to travel with the swimming squad to Columbus, Ohio, to compete in the Ohio State Invitational from Nov. 21 through Nov. 23, Stebbins said the two-week break will allow the Bruin divers time to work on the small details.
“We have a tremendous amount of detail to get to,” Stebbins said. “I’m looking forward to see how they respond to that need.”