The Maroons put on a show with several eye-opening finishes in a diving invitational against the University of Illinois-Chicago Flames, just a short bus trip from their home in Hyde Park. Both the Chicago men and women emerged victorious even though they seemed to be the underdogs: this weekend saw them compete against a slew of DI divers for success.
The field averaged between 13 and 20 participants per event. First-year Anna Girlich finished the day as Chicago’s top diver, snatching second place on the women's three-meter board with a score of 254.15. Girlich also finished in third place on the one-meter dive with a score of 247.60. In addition to Girlich’s impressive showing, second-year Monica Kieff placed 15th on both the one-meter (185.90) and three-meter (202.80) boards.
When asked about her strong performance against UIC, Girlich said, “I feel that Saturday’s meet was a good tune-up for all of us. We have a better idea of what to focus on this upcoming week before we leave for conference.”
Second-year Dean Boures was the sole diver representing the Maroon men. He ended the meet with a pair of seventh-place finishes. Boures scored 242.75 in the one-meter dive as well as a 201.65 in the three-meter dive.
Although swimming is often seen as a collection of individual performances, Girlich noted that the team atmosphere is incredibly important. “I feel I have improved over the course of the season by becoming more and more consistent with each meet, and increasing the difficulty of some of my dives,” she said. “My teammates have done the same and I think we all feed off of each other’s improvements.”
As for the immediate future, Girlich said, “we are preparing for our championship meets differently than the rest of the season by focusing on the dives that we already have instead of trying to learn something new.” Based on past performances, the divers certainly have a plethora of great dives in their arsenals. “We will be doing our dives in the order we will compete them in these bigger meets to try to simulate how we will perform there as best as we can,” the first-year said.
Girlich also acknowledged that the team is a great source of support and is one of the main reasons individuals have been so successful. “We try to motivate each other by staying positive at practice and at meets and encouraging each other before we have to perform some of our harder dives. The atmosphere in the locker room has been very positive and we are all super excited for conference,” she said.
The meet this weekend will certainly be an opportunity for both teams to fine-tune their techniques heading into the UAA Championships. The men stand at 5–4 overall while the women are at an incredible 7–1 on the season, their only loss coming at the hands of DI UW–Milwaukee.
The Maroons will be getting ready for their two-day meet at the Midwest Invitational as they return home to the Myers-McLoraine Pool. The meet will take place from Friday to Saturday this weekend, and will feature all members of the swim and dive squads.