Divers earn 3 NCAA championship-qualifying finishes despite cancellation
Freshman Hannah Butler of No. 24 UCLA swim and dive became the first Bruin freshman since 2016 to qualify for the NCAA championship when she took sixth place in the 1-meter competition at the NCAA Zone E Diving Championships.
By Coral Smith
March 12, 2020 5:36 p.m.
In what was possibly their final competition of the year, the Bruin divers booked three tickets to the NCAA championships, and were close two securing two more.
No. 24 UCLA swim and dive (7-3, 4-3 Pac-12) sent its divers to the NCAA Zone E Diving Championships in Federal Way, Washington, from Monday through Wednesday. Despite the cancellation of all NCAA winter and spring championships on Thursday because of coronavirus worries, the Bruins came away from the King County Aquatic Center with three finishes that would have earned qualifications.
Junior Ruby Neave became UCLA’s only double-qualifier when she scored highly enough to get into both the 1-meter and 3-meter springboard NCAA finals.
Neave first competed in the 1-meter competition Monday, and finished with a second-place finish in the event with a total score of 613.85 across the preliminary round and finals. Neave’s first dive of the preliminary round scored a 48.30, starting her off in 11th place. But with her next dive, Neave moved up to second place and did not drop below third place for the rest of the event en route to her podium finish.
This marks the fourth consecutive season in which a Bruin has come away with a top-two finish in an event at the Zone E championships.
Freshman Hannah Butler also finished with an NCAA championships-qualifying score in the 1 meter, as she advanced to the finals with a fifth-place finish in the prelims, and placed sixth. Butler’s qualification marked the first time since 2016 that a UCLA freshman diver qualified for the NCAA championships.
Neave collected her second qualifying score on day two, as she took sixth place in the 3-meter competition with a score of 623.30.
Butler finished just shy of joining Neave as a qualifier in the 3-meter, as she placed 14th with a score of 561.05 – just over than nine points behind the 12th place finisher, the cutoff to advance to NCAAs.
The only event in which UCLA did not finish with a NCAA berth was on platform. Freshman Katie Shaheen was the Bruins’ only representative in the event and narrowly missed out on making NCAAs, as she finished in 12th place, about 16 points behind the ninth-place final qualifier.
Despite not qualifying, Shaheen set a new season-best in the preliminary round with a 236.05, then exceeded that record with a 243.50 later that day in the finals.