Diving is just one event in the CIF swimming program, yet it is unique in that it has a day reserved all its own.
With 102 divers competing at this year’s San Diego Section finals May 3 at San Diego Mesa College, administrators may, in fact, have to reserve two days for the diving competition.
Diving has clearly rebounded to command a star presence on annual swim calendars.
Fifteen years ago an entry field of 16 divers was considered a good turnout.
“It had reached a stage participation-wise where we were concerned about this event,” San Diego Section aquatics director Brian Wilbur said.
Section officials took action.
The section dropped its 11-dive finals in favor of a more streamlined six-dive card. Participation numbers increased without the need to learn extra dives.
The sport has become increasingly popular among high school girls. This year’s finals featured 57 female and 45 male divers.
Besides the reduction in the dive card, the presence of more clubs dedicated to diving has also helped increase participation numbers.
This year’s finals started with warm-ups at 8:30 a.m. for the girls meet; the boys awards ceremony ended at 6:15 p.m. It made for a long day.
However, the grace and beauty of the dives more than made up for the marathon finish.
State of mind
The top four divers in each gender field at the section finals, regardless of division, qualified to compete in last weekend’s 11-dive state championship meet at the Clovis Olympic Swim Complex at Clovis West High School.
East County had two representatives among the section’s elite eight: Granite Hills junior Reece Robles (boys Division I champion) and West Hills senior Devin Hunt (boys Division II champion).
Joining the pair of East County divers at last weekend’s state meet were San Pasqual’s Jacob Rewa and Del Norte’s Samuel Schneider in the boys competition and Canyon Crest Academy’s Jaye Patrick, San Ysidro’s Eva Reyes, La Jolla’s Makenna Sammons and Westview’s Kaegen Hensen in the girls field.
Patrick won the section Division I title, with Reyes the Division I runner-up, while Sammons won the girls Division II championship.
None of the eight section divers came home with a gold medal but there were some respectable performances turned in the group.
Reyes, a former Mexican national team member, led the San Diego contingent with a seventh-place finish in the girls field with 467.60 points.
Patrick finished 10th in the state field with 457.75 points while Jensen finished 16th with 393.80 points. Sammons did not advance past the semifinal round, finishing 18th with 278.40 points.
Robles finished 12th in the boys field with 434.00 points. He was the only section male diver to score points in the meet.
Schneider (19th, 259.70 points) and Rewa (20th, 259.10 points) did not advance past the semifinals.
Hunt did not advance past the preliminary round after scoring 154.30 points.
Robles appears to have room to move up the state leaderboard in the future as his career best for 11 dives is 455.35 points.
Otherwise, it was a record-setting dive meet.
El Toro’s Savannah Stocker set a new state record with 538.75 points to capture her second consecutive girls title while Villa Park’s Andrew Harness set a new state boys dive record with a winning score of 640.85 points.
“The top 16 divers in the state includes some of the top divers in the country,” remarked Dan Kovar, who coached Reyes at the state meet.
The swimmers with the top three times, regardless of division, plus those who met a predetermined qualifying standard, advanced to compete in last weekend’s state championship swim meet, which also took place at the Clovis West swim complex.
Steele Canyon junior Trevor Moore, Christian senior Noah Snyder and West Hills senior Danielle Nowaski represented East County schools in last Saturday’s state finals.
Moore finished as the Division I boys section champion in the 100-yard freestyle (45.25) and was the runner-up in the 50 freestyle (20.77) to punch his ticket to the state meet.
The top eight prelim finishers at the state meet advanced to compete in the championship A-heat while swimmers placing ninth through 16 competed in the consolation B-heat.
Moore competed in the consolation B-heat in both events. He finished 13th in the 50 freestyle with a time of 20.87 to better his prelim time of 20.97 set last Friday. The Cougar swimmer placed 16th in the 100 freestyle finals in 46.99 after posting a 45.61 time in the prelims the previous day.
As a point of reference, Torrey Pines junior Stephan Lukashev placed second in the 50 freestyle with a time of 20.29 and was fifth in the 100 butterfly (47.56).
The Falcon swimmer had tied the record of 20.21 in the 50 freestule in winning the Division I title at the section finals held May 4 at Del Norte High School and set a new section record of 47.52 in winning the 100 butterfly.
Loyola senior Connor Lee won the state title in the 50 freestyle in 20.11 while Bella Vista senior Finn O’Haimhirgin won the state title in the 100 freestyle in 43.71.
Snyder, who placed runner-up in the 100 breaststroke at the Division II section finals with a time of 56.79, finished 12th at the state finals in 56.90 while competing in the consolation B-heat. He had timed 56.76 in the preceding state prelims.
Nowaski, a four-time state qualifier, placed 12th in the girls 500 freestyle event with a time of 4:59.04 and finished 15th in the girls 200 individual medley in 2:05.60.
Nowaski had timed 4:58.93 in the 500 freestyle and 2:05.25 in the 200 IM in the preceding state prelims after placing second in the 200 IM at the Division II section finals in 2:04.16 and second in the 500 freestyle (4:55.12) at the division finals.
Oak Ridge sophomore Ben Dillard won his second consecutive state title in the boys breaststroke in a meet record 52.74 while Monta Vista senior Zoie Hartman won the girls 200 IM state championship in 1:55.29.
Clovis North freshman Claire Tuggle won the girls 500 freestyle state title in 4:41.60.
Torrey Pines recorded some phenomenal swims at last weekend’s state meet to place second overall among girls teams with 165 points.
Sophomore Mia Kragh became the first swimmer from the San Diego Section to win a state title after topping the field in the girls 100 butterfly event with a section- and state-record time of 52.26.
Kragh helped the Falcons win the 200 medley relay with a new state record time of 1:41.20 and place second in the 200 freestyle relay with a new section record time of 1:33.74.
Kragh finished sixth in the 50 freestyle (23.26) to cap a power-packed individual performance.
Torrey Pines senior Kira Crage finished seventh in the 100 freestyle (50.66) and eighth in the 50 freestyle (23.31).
Torrey Pines closed out the meet with an eighth-place finish in the girls 400 freestyle relay (3:28.76).
Bishop’s senior Pierce Dietze finished fifth in the boys 200 freestyle finals (1:37.58) and sixth in the 100 freestyle finals (45.26).
Vista senior Jaeden Calder finished seventh in the boys 50 freestyle (20.89) while Pacific Ridge sophomore Mateo Parker finished eighth in 20.95.
Torrey Pines (1:32.43) and Bishop’s (1:32.58) finished seventh and eighth, respectively, in the boys 200 medley relay.
Santa Margarita won the girls team title with 230 points while San Ramon Valley won the boys team title with 177 points to edge runner-up Oak Ridge (174 points).
Bishop’s led the section’s boys team with a ninth-place finish with 76 points while Torrey Pines was 12th with 55 points.