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UCLA divers prepare to compete in upcoming NCAA Zone E Championships

Diver Zoe Jespersgaard extends her legs mid-dive. The UCLA swim and dive freshman will be competing in all three events in the NCAA Zone E Championships starting Monday. (Joseph Jimenez/Daily Bruin)

Swim and Dive

NCAA Zone E Championships

Flagstaff, Arizona
No TV info

By Garrison Hallum

March 6, 2022 5:55 p.m.

This post was updated March 6 at 6:10 p.m.

A trio of Bruin divers are headed to the first stage of the national championships.

UCLA swim and dive (3-5, 1-5 Pac-12) will send three divers to Flagstaff, Arizona, for the NCAA Zone E Diving Championships from Monday to Wednesday. The Bruins will compete in the 1-meter, 3-meter and platform diving competitions in the three-day event.

Junior diver Hannah Butler, along with freshmen divers Zoe Jespersgaard and Maya Salvitti, will all make the trip to Flagstaff.

Diving coach Tom Stebbins said he is pleased with the way his team is performing heading into the championships.

“We are in a really good place; the team looks really good, physically,” Stebbins said. “They did all the right work this week.”

UCLA is coming off a fourth-place team finish in the Pac-12 championships last month, in which Butler placed third in the 1-meter diving competition.

Stebbins said the team’s plan for success is consistent with what it has been throughout the season, and the extended break between the conference and national competitions is beneficial for his athletes.

“We took a couple days off over the weekend, gave them a little more rest and they got a lot of work in on Monday,” Stebbins said. “The whole thing is about being sharp at the right time-the most important thing for us is to stay focused on the things we built throughout the season.”

In addition to Butler’s podium finish at the Pac-12 championships, the junior has earned multiple top-three finishes in dual meets throughout the season.

Stebbins said Butler, who is the lone upperclassman heading to the Zone E championships, has done a great job in preparing her two first-year teammates for the competition.

“We had a couple discussions, and Hannah has been really good about vocalizing the things that have worked for her in the past and what it looks like,” Stebbins said.

Jespersgaard will compete in every event of the meet after having qualified for all three throughout the season.

The freshman said she was happy with the way her team performed this season, and the Bruins are looking to build off previous success.

“I think we had a really good performance at Pac-12s, and we are going to try and improve on that,” Jespersgaard said. “A goal I have is being able to manage our competition and performance.”

The freshman said the most important part of the team’s preparation is being consistent, and she feels the team has done this well over the past week, especially with Butler’s guidance.

“We are trying to keep the same mindset we have had all along, which is to perform consistently and scoring a steady amount,” Jespersgaard said. “Hannah has shown me how to navigate and prepare for the meet.”

Butler said she will be focusing on improving in the aspects of her dives she’s struggled with in previous competitions.

“I’ll be working on getting better lines and cleaning up the things I had some trouble with at the Pac-12s,” Butler said. “I think trying to make each dive as good as they can possibly be for this meet.”

The Bruins’ performance will determine if they will advance to the NCAA championships. In order to qualify, the divers will need a top-nine finish in the platform competition, a top-five placement in the 3-meter competition or a top-seven finish in the 1-meter competition.

The Zone E championships will kick off with the 1-meter dive Monday, with the preliminary round beginning at 10:30 a.m.

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Garrison Hallum | Sports contributors
Hallum is currently a contributor on the track & field and swim & dive beats.
Hallum is currently a contributor on the track & field and swim & dive beats.
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