With only three female divers representing Harvard this weekend at the NCAA Zone Diving Championships, the Crimson still managed to post impressive results.
Following her record-breaking appearance in the Ivy League Championships two weeks ago, junior Samantha Papadakis placed second in the one-meter competition and earned a bid to the NCAA Championships.
The Crimson swimmers had several opportunities throughout the season to become eligible for Nationals, but for Harvard divers, this weekend’s event was their only opportunity to earn NCAA berths.
Unlike regular season dual meets against familiar divers, Zone A diving includes swimmers from institutions all along the East Coast.
“The meet requires a different type of competition,” said Papadakis, who is also a Crimson sports editor. “When you’re in Ivy League competition, all of the coaches know you well and scoring is higher. At a qualifying meet, the judges are tighter.
“Spots are more competitive,” she added. “The top divers could all score within five points of each other.”
The competition did not affect Papadakis, who placed first in the preliminaries of the one-meter competition with a score of 255.60, but dropped to second to Kate Hynes of Drexel with an overall score of 514.70.
However, this second-place finish did not cut short Papadakis’s chance to compete in the NCAA Championships. Hynes had previously qualified Friday in the three-meter competition, so the national bid fell to Papadakis.
Papadakis is no stranger to the high level of competition. She competed in the NCAA Championships last year, placing 28th in the one-meter and 35th in the three-meter.
“I’m just going to try to go into it with the mentality that I have nothing to lose,” she said. “I’ll try to improve. I’m going in knowing that I can do better than last year.”
On Friday, Papadakis scored 529.8 points in the three-meter competition and finished in sixth place.
Eventual champion Alida DiPlacido of Syracuse won the event with a score of 639.35.
In her first trip to Zone A diving, Harvard junior Kelcey Moore, a transfer from Georgetown, placed 14th in the three-meter and 22nd in the one-meter.
“It’s just a fun event to go to,” Moore said. “The level of diving is so different here than at Georgetown. Harvard is great in terms of coaching and support from your teammates.”
The tournament was particularly significant for senior Annika Giesbrecht, who placed 18th in the three-meter and 22nd in the one-meter, as it marked her last tournament with the Crimson.
“I’m now a Harvard diving alum,” Giesbrecht said. “I came to watch my teammates and to finish off my career. We had an incredible Ivy League meet two weeks ago, and after being injured all season, it is nice to be able to compete. It’s great to end the season with [Papadaki] winning the one-meter and going on to Nationals.”
Papadakis will move on to represent the Harvard diving team at the NCAA Championships March 8-10 at the University of Minnesota.