After a year of important firsts for Cal sophomore Phoebe Lamay, she led the diving squad to a strong start at the Bruin Diving Invitational. From Friday to Sunday, the Bears competed against Pac-12 foes such as USC, UCLA and Utah at the Spieker Aquatics Center.
While shaking off the rust from not competing in a month and a 10-day break from the holidays, Lamay struggled with the first event: the 3-meter springboard. Of the 36 divers entered in the competition, she placed 21st and failed to advance to the finals. On the second day, Lamay shook off her first day jitters by finishing 11th in the platform diving event. She capped the weekend with a fifth-place finish in the 1-meter springboard, her best event.
“(Lamay) was competing on a sprained foot,” said Cal diving coach Derek Starks. “It was very impressive for her to get up and do as well as she did.”
As Lamay battled an injury, freshman Mia Diliberto was well on her way toward a personal best in the 1-meter springboard before hitting her hand on the diving board on her fourth dive, forcing her to scratch the rest of the event. She finished 18th and 23rd in the 3-meter springboard and platform diving events, respectively.
Senior Hayden Tavoda, the elder stateswoman of the young team, had the Bears’ most complete performance. She placed 11th in the 3-meter and seventh in the 1-meter springboard diving events. Like the other members of the roster, Tavoda had an apparent weakness, which was the platform diving event, where she placed 25th.
“We had a lot of personal bests,” Starks said. “A lot of our divers were competing brand new dives. Seeing them get in there and hold themselves together with those new dives and get personal bests and finals was impressive.”
Starks has made a stark difference to Cal’s diving program. The team had just one NCAA qualifier last year who failed to score whereas Georgia and Stanford — the two teams that finished ahead of the Bears at last year’s NCAA Championship — had multiple scoring performances across the three diving events.
Christopher Zheng covers women’s swim. Contact him at [email protected].