A year ago, Cal and Stanford were tied for second at the NCAA Championship after the last individual swimming event — the 200-yard butterfly. Both teams sat behind Georgia by 48 points. After the 200-yard butterfly, the Bears and the Bulldogs watched as two Stanford divers changed the landscape of the championship meet. The Cardinal became the only team in position to challenge the eventual champion Bulldogs, leaving Cal in the dust.
While Stanford projects to run away with this year’s NCAA championship, the Bears have the best shot within the remaining field at playing the spoiler. The key to that quest will be Cal’s divers — sophomore Phoebe LaMay and senior Hayden Tavoda.
Lamay and Tavoda will be Cal’s contingency at the NCAA Zone E Diving Championship. At the competition, the duo will look for their invitations to the NCAA Championship in the 1-meter, 3-meter and platform diving events.
LaMay is clearly on track to being the greatest diver in the history of the program. She set school records this year with personal bests in the 1- and 3-meter diving. The addition of a high-quality practice facility is helping LaMay and the rest of the squad with platform diving.
At the Pac-12 Championship, LaMay earned top-six finishes in the 1-meter and platform diving events. She fell to 13th place in the 3-meter as a result of two poor dives: the back 2 1/2 somersault tuck and the reverse 2 1/2 somersault tuck. LaMay is clearly capable to high-difficulty dives, but she will need to prevent unforced errors in order to consistently be a force to be reckoned with.
Tavoda, who is also among Cal’s all-time top 10 in all three diving events, will get a final chance at qualifying for the NCAA Championship. She’s notched personal bests already this year, and she will have an opportunity to improve on her performance against Pac-12 foes at the Zone E Championship.
The duo will need to qualify for the NCAA Championship and plug the leaking hole that has traditionally been the Bears’ diving weakness if Cal wants a shot at taking down Stanford and snatching the throne.
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Phoebe LaMay was Cal’s sole representative at last year’s women’s diving NCAA Championship. In fact, Anne Kastler also qualified.
Christopher Zheng covers women’s swim. Contact him at [email protected].