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ND Women’s Diving: Sophomore diver faces top eight

Vicky Jacobsen | Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sophomore diver Jenny Chiang was unsure of what to expect as she traveled the USA Diving Winter Nationals competition Friday. Although the reigning Big East 3-meter champion has compiled an impressive résumé as a member of the Irish diving squad, this marked her first time competing in a USA diving event since coming to Notre Dame.

“I was really nervous about going to the meet in general because I hadn’t gone to a U.S. meet in a while, so I wasn’t sure how I was going to place, if I was going to qualify, stuff like that,” Chiang said.

The meet was an elite affair — only athletes whose dives met a minimum degree of difficulty were eligible to compete in a preliminary qualifying competition, held the previous Sunday.

The top 12 performers from the preliminary round moved on to the quarterfinal round of Nationals, which was held on the campus of the University of Iowa. Many of the nation’s strongest divers — including several Olympians — were in attendance, and the final results were used to determine the American contingent for major international competitions, including the World University Games, Canada Cup, AT&T USA Diving Grand Prix and World Championships.

Chiang, who had not participated in a national meet since her junior year of high school, gave a strong performance in the 3-meter springboard event at the National Preliminary competition, finishing in second place. But the quarterfinal round did not go as she had hoped, and she failed to qualify for the semifinals after scoring 232.30 points, good for 29th place.

“My performance in prelims went really well, I ended up in second going into quarterfinals, but I wasn’t really happy with my performance at quarterfinals,” Chiang said. “It went really badly.”

Chiang typically attends meets with the rest of her team, but diving coach Caiming Xie was the only member of the Notre Dame diving team or staff that accompanied her to Iowa. While the competition lacked the team camaraderie present at college meets, Chiang was able to check out non-collegiate competition and catch up with old friends.

“A lot of friends that I know from previous meets were there,” Chiang said. “It’s really nice to see a change; in college we compete against a lot of schools that are just around us, so it’s nice to see people from all over the country, a lot of people I haven’t seen in a while.”

Although Chiang was not completely satisfied with her dives on Friday, she still relished the opportunity to compete in such a high-profile event, and hopes to attend another USA Diving event this coming summer.

“It’s a great meet to go see because there’s so many really, really talented divers there, especially this year because it was a qualifying meet for Olympic trials and the Grand Prix,” said Chiang. “It’s a good meet to go to because it motivates you to do better and work harder.”