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Two Iowa women’s divers receive all-American honors

BY MAGGIE CUNNINGHAM | MARCH 21, 2011 7:20 AM

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Collecting three All-American honors at the NCAA women’s diving championships in Austin, Texas, March 17-19 was the culmination of the Hawkeyes’ exceptional season.

Senior Deidre Freeman earned two of the honors when she took 10th in the 3 meter with a score of 370.65 and 15th place in the 1 meter with a 286.30. Senior Veronica Rydze was also named an All-American when she finished 13th in the 3 meter with a personal college-best score of 296.65.

“I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be good enough to be an All-American and to be one of the best divers in the NCAA,” Freeman said. “It’s amazing, and I still can’t believe I’m at that level.”

The competition was hosted by the University of Texas at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center. Every diver that finished in the top 16 in each event received the All-American honor.

“Sometimes, it’s hard to deal with the pressure of going to the NCAAs for the first time,” said Big Ten Diving Coach of the Year Bob Rydze. “But I thought the girls handled it really well. That is what I was most proud of.”

It was the first time that either Freeman or Veronica Rydze had reached the NCAA championships, and it was their strong performances at the Zone D diving qualifier on March 11-13 that let the duo advance to that meet.

At the qualifier, Freeman posted fourth- and seventh-place finishes in the 1 and 3 meters, and Veronica Rydze finished third on the 3 meter and 11th on the 1. Freshman Lauren Kelba also competed at the qualifier in the platform events, but she did not move on to the championships.

Bob Rydze said the zone meet can sometimes be more stressful than the championships because more is at stake. Only those finishing in the top five qualify for the championship meet.

“Instead of peaking at any point in the championship season, we continued to dive well,” Bob Rydze said. “I’m proud of the girls because they handled diving in big meet after big meet after big meet really well.”

This year’s championship season was especially long because it included the 2011 USA Diving Winter Nationals, in addition to the usual Big Ten championships and NCAA championships.

Freeman and Rydze competed well in all of those competitions, which included a Big Ten title in the exhibition 3-meter synchronized dive and fourth place in the synchronized 3-meter at nationals.

“Being a part of such a strong diving team has given me a lot of confidence in how we are training and what we are doing,” Kelba said. “I love the fact that I can represent Hawkeye diving, and am really motivated to continue to make this program a really strong team.”

Just about every college team focuses on building a stronger program, and a successful season is important to do that. However, Bob Rydze said, the accomplishments that the Hawkeyes had this season didn’t only strengthen the program.

“Every year, our expectations are to do well during the championship part of the season,” he said.

“So of course this season meant a lot to the entire program and everything, but it means a lot more to the girls.”


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