ECAC Swim-Dive & Zone Diving Championships Upcoming for Navy
ANNAPOLIS, Md. –– The championship portion of the season for the Navy swimming and diving teams continues over the next week as the programs will take part in a pair of meets. Navy will play host to the ECAC Swimming & Diving Friday through Sunday in Lejeune Hall and take part in the NCAA Zone A Diving Championship Monday through Wednesday in Christansburg, Va.
Teams from throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions will send competitors to the ECAC Championship, including Bucknell, Columbia, UMBC and Penn.
“With over twenty teams signed up to compete,” said Navy women’s swimming head coach John Morrison, “the competition and the environment of being at home will certainly lead to some inspired swims. This team has prepared very well and is ready to race. It will be an exciting three days in Lejeune Hall as we try to go for an ECAC title.”
“As in previous seasons,” said Navy men’s swimming head coach Bill Roberts, “this meet is a terrific opportunity for our program. We are expecting excellent racing each day of competition as there will be a high number of athletes in attendance using this meet to earn an invitation to the NCAA Championship.”
Preliminary swimming heats followed by diving trials at the ECAC Championship will begin at 10 a.m. on Friday and Saturday with a session of combined finals starting both nights at 6 p.m. No diving events will be contested Sunday, with the swimming sessions on the day beginning at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., respectively. Tickets to the championship are $60 for an all-session pass, $15 for an individual ticket for a session of finals and $12 for a trials heat ticket, and can be purchased at the second floor entrance to Lejeune Hall prior to the start of each session.
Vehicle access to the U.S. Naval Academy is limited to those with a Department of Defense identification card. It is suggested that everyone else park at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium ($5. per vehicle) and ride the free shuttle bus to and from the game. Shuttle bus service will run from 9 a.m.-11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and from 8 a.m.-9 p.m. on Sunday. A government issued identification card must be carried and presented by visitors ages 18 and older to the USNA prior to being allowed onto The Yard. Visitors from Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico or Washington State, must produce their driver’s license AND a second ID card before being admitted.
Four Navy divers have qualified for the NCAA Zone A Diving Championship. Bradley Buchter (Fr., Hickory, N.C.), Nate Belch (Jr., Tucson, Ariz.) and Nash Nickerson (Fr., Doylestown, Pa.) will compete in a combined seven events at the zone meet for the Navy men’s team while Madison Keiser (Fr., Southlake, Texas) is entered into a pair of events.
“This is what we have been working toward all year,” said Navy diving coach Rich MacDonald. “I hope to build off our success at the conference championship. They were all very poised and ready to dive at that meet. This will be different, though. Now they will be diving for themselves and not for team points. It tends to be a little different mindset. They will still have each other for encouragement and support. We will be facing about 50 to 60 of the best divers from Virginia on up per gender. This will probably be the most competitive this meet has ever been. We are all excited to get to Virginia Tech to compete.”
The Christiansburg Aquatics Center will play host to the meet March 6 (noon, men’s one meter and women’s three meter), 7 (noon, women’s one meter and men’s three meter) and 8 (11 a.m., men’s and women’s platform) to determine the zone’s representatives on each board for the NCAA Championship.
The format for the two springboard events consists of six dives for all entered divers with the top-18 finishers from the preliminary round advancing to the finals where each will again perform six dives. Scores from the preliminary round are carried over into the finals. The platform event features all entered divers taking 12 dives.
Buchter broke a slew of records in winning both diving events at the Patriot League Championship. The 2017 men’s diver of the year broke the Navy record with his score of 386.10 on the one meter as well as the Navy, meet and league record on the three meter with his tally of 430.10. Buchter has qualified to compete on all three boards at next week’s zone meet.
Belch will be making his third appearance in as many years at the championship. He has competed in five events at the meet over the last two years and reached the finals on the one-meter board at the 2016 championship. Belch is entered into both springboard events at next week’s championship. He enters the zone meet after placing second on the three meter and sixth on the one meter and earning second-team all-league laurels at the Patriot League Championship.
Nickerson joined Belch in garnering second-team all-league honors at the recent Patriot League Championship with his third-place finishes on both boards at the meet. He is slated to compete in the three-meter and platform events at the zone championship.
Keiser will compete in both springboard events at the meet. She will be making her inaugural appearance at the zone meet after reaching the championship final on both boards at the Patriot League Championship. Keiser placed second on the one-meter board and eighth on the three-meter board at the league meet to earn Second-Team All-Patriot League accolades.
NCAA schools are divided into five zones for diving based upon geographical location. Zone A consists of schools in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. Over 100 divers have qualified for the Zone A Championship on at least one board. Women had to post scores of at least 265 points to qualify for the zone meet on the one-meter board, 280 points to take part in the three-meter event and 225 points to compete in platform diving at the meet. Men were required at attain scores of at least 300 points on the one meter, 320 points on the three meter and 300 points in platform diving to advance to the zone meet on the respective boards.
Zone A will send six men’s divers on the one meter, five on the three meter and four in platform diving to the national championship, while the women will advance five divers from the one-meter and seven from the three-meter and six from platform competitions to the NCAA meet. Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis will play host to both NCAA Swimming and Diving Championship meets. The women will compete in the IUPUI Natatorium March 15-18, with the men’s meet slated for March 22-25.