Diving | Johann Schmidt heads to Nationals after back−to−back diving wins, prepares for NCAAs
Defending 1−meter champion set to tackle Texas in two weeks
Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 06:03
Junior Johann Schmidt, 2012 national champion on the 1−meter board, will return to nationals this year with wins on both boards at this weekend’s zone qualifying meet. Schmidt won both the 1 and 3−meter competitions by margins greater than 35 points and will continue onto the NCAA National Championships in Shenandoah, Texas on March 20−23.
The back−to−back wins this weekend will be a confidence boost for Schmidt as he continues to train for nationals.
“Johann is just starting to distance himself from the competition,” coach Brad Snodgrass said. “That doesn’t mean he’s going to win every meet, but he has the tools to do it.”
Last weekend at the NESCACs, Schmidt fell short of his usual performance when he placed second in the 1−meter board for the first time in his career at Tufts. This weekend reaffirmed Schmidt’s talent as a diver, as he beat Amherst’s Colin White by more than 100 points on the 1−meter dive after White knocked him out last weekend.
Schmidt’s top competition came from Springfield senior Kenny Pancoast who he outpaced 588 to 549 on the 3−meter and 543 to 506 on the 1−meter.
Schmidt got off to a shaky start on his first dive of the day on Friday after losing focus during warm−ups, but quickly regained his poise. He went from placing third on the first dive to winning the third by 12 points. He went on to win three of the next eight dives, and placed near the top in all of his other ones.
According to Snodgrass, however, Schmidt has stayed humble and focused as he turns his attention to the NCAAs. Nationals will be the true test of the season so far for Schmidt, and it really comes down to what he does on that day.
“He knows that anybody can win this, that’s the reason we compete each time,” Snodgrass said. “NESCACs was a good reminder — even if you are better than the pack on most days, someone can have a really good day. In the end, you can only control what you do. Most days that will put him out on top, but it helps him put the focus on himself.”
Junior Sami Bloom competed as well but did not qualify for the NCAAs. She finished 19th out of 27 divers on the 1−meter and 19th out of 26 divers on the 3−meter. Still, Bloom felt that it was a strong end to what has been a successful albeit short season.
Snodgrass is hopeful that with a full season of training next year, Bloom will be able to come back and place higher than she did this weekend.
“I think she knows what she needs to do to be competitive next year,” Snodgrass said. “We’ll have her for the whole year next year so certainly be shooting for that.”
According to Schmidt, the meet ended up being relaxing once he got into the rhythm of his dives.
“Brad told me to relax and have confidence, and after that it was easy going and I had fun,” he said.
Snodgrass plans on taking the next couple of practices to work on basics with Schmidt so that he can feel in control of every dive. Getting a set rhythm will hopefully keep Schmidt from getting nervous when he’s up on the board.
“We’re going to go back to basics a little bit,” Snodgrass said. “If he can improve his timing and board work his dives will look and feel a lot easier.”
After some days of technique work, Schmidt will turn to working on his voluntary dives to keep them as consistent as they have been in the past. Schmidt’s dive list is considerably more challenging than last year’s, said Snodgrass, but he’s going to stick with it.
“He’s still challenged sometimes with the degree of difficulty, but he’s solid in that list and hopefully can do as well as he’s done lately,” Snodgrass said.