Sports

Program regains its breath

2008_NCAA_Womens_SD_0287.1

Red, White & Blue: 2008 NCAA Diver of the Year Brittany Viola was the USA team captain at the 2009 FINA World Championships in Rome. Courtesy Hurricane Sports

It’s 7 a.m.

While most of the campus is still asleep, the Norman Whitten Student Union Pool is as busy as ever, and not with devoted sun worshippers. It’s the University of Miami swimming and diving team starting its morning practice.

Hurricane aquatics has a long and strong history. The women’s swimming teams captured national championships in 1975 and 1976, and the diving team has featured prominent Olympic divers Greg Louganis and Wendy Williams.

The current team has a ways to go before reaching that kind of prominence, but with standout divers Reuben Ross and Brittany Viola, swimmer Annika Saarnak, a wealth of supporting talent and a devoted coaching staff, the team is on the right path.

“This season definitely was a turn around for this program,” Assistant Swimming Coach Tricia Harm said. “Last year they had kind of finished within the bottom of the ACC. This year we moved up.”

Finishing with a 10-7 record, the Canes swam and dove to ninth in the ACC. Last year’s national champion in the three-meter springboard, Ross also earned ACC Men’s Diver of the Year and competed in the Beijing Olympics for his native country, Canada.

Ross received two All-America awards at the NCAA Championships after finishing seventh in the one-meter springboard and seventh in the three-meter. He also had an impressive third-place finish in the 10-meter platform event this year.

After a sophomore campaign in which she was named Co-NCAA Diver of the Year and ACC Women’s Diver of the Year, Viola’s junior season was hampered by a back injury that prevented her from defending her title in the 10-meter platform event.

Injury aside, the coaching staff recognizes the special talent it has on its hands.

“Besides the endless amount of practice, she’s a very talented athlete,” Assistant Diving Coach Dario Di Fazio said. “You need to have a combination of being talented and working hard.”

A change in approach has swept over the team.

“We all came together compared to last year,” Saarnak said. “Ohio State and the ACCs were very successful for us.”

Time will tell if these changes propel the swimming and diving program to the next level.

“We created a culture where we want to be great,” Harm said. “The girls want to be great.”

August 22, 2009

Reporters

Adam Berger

Staff Sports Writer


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

Shakey Rodriguez, the Miami high school basketball coaching legend, vividly remembers the first time ...

It was a good day for the Miami Hurricanes basketball team. They moved up to No. 6 in the AP Top 25 ...

Erykah Davenport and Shaneese Bailey made key plays back-to-back late in the game and four players s ...

1. MARLINS: Jeter's Fish trade Gordon. Stanton next?: While others spend -- like the Angels to ...

Five years and two days after being fired as FIU’s football coach, at least one report declares form ...

William W. Sandler Jr. Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Education earns national recognition for it ...

Retired baseball star Alex Rodriguez gives "Major League" advice to UM’s fall graduating c ...

Becoming the Man of the Hour ...

Always a little bit of a flair for the dramatic. ...

A scholarship created by retired Major League Baseball star Alex Rodriguez and born out of his love ...

The University of Miami women's basketball team capped its seven-game homestand with a 79-31 wi ...

University of Miami senior wide receiver Braxton Berrios earned 2017 first-team 2017 CoSIDA Academic ...

The Hurricanes and Colonials square off at noon Saturday in Washington, D.C. ...

University of Miami men's basketball player Chris Stowell is an active member in the Hurricanes ...

Eighteen Hurricane student-athletes graduated from four schools and colleges at the University of Mi ...

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.