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Number of male and women divers differ

BY BEN WOLFSON | DECEMBER 01, 2010 7:20 AM

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The men's diving roster only shows two names: freshmen Arsen Sarkisian and Osvel Molina. But the women's team has seven divers.

There are a few reasons for the disparity between the number of divers on the teams, but Iowa diving coach Bob Rydze said the main reason is that Iowa dropped men's high-school diving around 1994, saying there weren't enough diving coaches.

"If there aren't enough diving coaches, how do you have women's diving in this state?" asked Rydze, who is in his 36th year as the squad's coach and also serves as chairman of USA Diving's Board of Directors.

Since then, it has become significantly more difficult for the men's team to recruit divers. Because of the lack of diving in the state, the possibility of an Iowa native being recruited or walking on is eliminated. Another major factor that plays a role in the low diving numbers is the number of scholarships available to Rydze.

The college level is the only time swimming and diving are grouped together as one team instead of having two separate teams. For this reason, the NCAA stipulates that the men's swimming and diving teams are only allotted 9.9 scholarships; the women have 14 scholarships.

"Most of the time if a diver's pretty good, he's going to get money somewhere," Rydze said. "The walk-ons who come here are guys who are going to have to pay out-of-state tuition, where if they just get a little money in-state at another institution in-state, or get money at another institution that's out of their state, it's going to be cheaper for them to go there.

"We're at a little bit of a disadvantage that way."

From the mid-90s to 2003, Rydze used three to three and a half out of the 9.9 scholarships on his divers.

Now, the number of scholarships available to Rydze has decreased because of the success of the swimming team.

With two divers on the men's team, this allows them to become more versatile. They can dive on both the springboard and tower platforms, whereas the women specialize and focus on one or the other.

Sarkisian, who doesn't see this as a disadvantage, says he likes being one of only two members on the men's team.

"When I dove in high school, I was pretty much the only diver, and a lot of times I would be by myself," he said.

UI senior Frank Van Dijkhuizen, a former diver under Rydze, was comfortable with the small number of male divers. During his freshman year, there were four, and the next year, that number will decrease to three.

"The advantages of having more men on a team is that the men can do weights together because the women don't lift weights," Van Dijkhuizen said.

Another disadvantage for the men's divers is that in competition, teams typically score three people, which Van Dijkhuizen referred to as a "shame" in the case for the Hawkeyes. However, he thinks Sarkisian and Molina develop much better chemistry by only having each other.

Although it may not boast the same depth of other collegiate squads, the Iowa men's diving team can still rely on the teachings of its experienced head coach.

"Having more [divers] is just more people to motivate and work with," Sarkisian said. "Bob's a great coach and with us two, it allows him to take more time to work with us — it's more personal."


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