SWIMMING AND DIVING: UM sweeps platform diving events

Miami’s top three divers proved they are among the elite with strong performance at the NCAA Zone B Championships which brought top divers from 25 colleges and universities in the southeast.

After getting off to good starts on Friday and Saturday at the three-day meet at Auburn University, sophomore Brittany Viola and freshman J.J. Kinzbach each won Sunday’s platform finals for the women’s and men’s fields. Sophomore Reuben Ross placed second with a 796.70, behind Kinzbach’s 857.30. Viola finished with a 702.50, blowing away second-place N.C. State junior Kristin Davies by almost 120 points.

“The final day was definitely the highlight,” said Viola. “I personally dived really well and I’m happy about it.”

With their performances over the weekend, all three Miami divers qualified for the 2008 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships.

“It’s exciting that we all qualified on the first day,” said Ross. “It relieved pressure and the real test comes next week.”

On Friday, Ross’s 375.50 earned him second, ahead of fourth-place Kinzbach who dove for a 362.50 in the three-meter event. University of Georgia senior Christopher Colwill won the title with a score of 428.55. Viola’s score of 258.55 earned her seventh in the women’s one-meter dive while South Carolina freshman Taryn Zuck’s 288.80 came atop the standings.

Saturday brought even more success as both Viola and Ross gained third-place finishes in the three-meter and one-meter events respectively. Colwill once again took the title for the men with a score of 396.15 to Ross’s 346.20. Kinzbach placed 17th. Georgia freshman Hannah Moore’s 324.85 was too much for Viola’s 294.95 third-place score.

“We have a tradition here that when a diver wins at NCAAs, we paint a portrait of him or her and put it by the pool,” said head coach Randy Ableman. “It’s been quite a while since we’ve brought out the paintbrushes.”

“This meet was a stepping stone by qualifying,” said Ableman. “I think they dove the best they did all year. They’re healthy and diving well so hopefully they’ll rise to the occasion.”

Christina De Nicola may be contacted at c.denicola@umiami.edu.