Freeman and Rydze take fourth at diving nationals


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Parading onto the pool deck wearing similar black T-shirts with Tigerhawks across their backs, Iowa seniors Deidre Freeman and Veronica Rydze focused for the finals of the 3-meter synchronized dive at the USA Diving’s 2011 Winter Nationals.

Five dives later, the duo marched back across the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center’s Natatorium to the podium to collect their medal after finishing fourth.

The two garnered 263.23 points for their best synchronized score ever, and they considered fourth place a strong finish to the evening.

“It feels awesome,” Freeman said. “It feels good to maintain our place, because we placed fourth at Nationals in the summer. And it’s great just to compete against the best divers.”

In August, the Freeman and Rydze finished fourth in the 3-meter synchronized dive at the 2010 Summer National Championships.

“One of the girls that beat us last time, her team didn’t beat us this time, so that was really nice for us,” Rydze said.

The two fourth-place finishes increase their chances of being invited to the World Championships in July, but the deciding factor will come at the World Championship Synchro Trials in Florida in May.

Freeman and Rydze will continue training for that competition in the elite synchronized diving camp that will be held at the Rec Center this month.

The 3-meter synchronized event consisted of five dives. The first two are required, and the last three allow the pair to show their athleticism.

“We did our required dives really well,” Rydze said. “And usually they are our kind of our weakness, so that got us pumped up.”

On Sunday, Freeman had struggled with a partial biceps tear in her right shoulder, but there was no sign of her injury Tuesday.

“I didn’t really notice [the injury] today,” she said. “It might have been the nerves. It might have been everything that was going through my head, but I was definitely not thinking about it.”

Although the team’s performance was not affected by Freeman’s injury, diving coach Bob Rydze saw some areas that could have been executed better.

“They could have done a little better back two-and-a-half, maybe, and a lot better reverse two-and-a-half,” he said. “But I did think their requireds were strong.”

Both divers agree that their first two dives gave them a strong start. In the first round, Freeman and Rydze posted the second-highest score (51).

“I got out of the water and saw that our scores were nines,” Freeman said. “And I was blown away.”
With the judges’ preciseness, it was beneficial for Freeman and Rydze to start strong.

There are 11 people on the judge’s panel. Six of those look at the execution. Three of those judges score diver A, and three score diver B. The last five judges score the synchronization.

When the averaging is complete and the degree of difficulty is considered, the final total score is calculated.

“Getting your best score is an amazing feeling in general,” Freeman said. “And for it to happen at home in Iowa City and at Nationals is just … I’m speechless.”

• Note: The start times of today’s 1-meter semifinals have been pushed back by two hours because of inclement weather. The women’s 1-meter will now start at noon, and the men’s 1-meter will begin at 3 p.m. The women’s final is still scheduled to start at 6 p.m., with the men’s final to follow.

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