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News Office Blog - Stringers » meet
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massachusetts institute of technology

Guest Blogger: Doria Holbrook

MIT news

blog

NCAA 1m. Prelims


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I made it through prelims.  It was a long afternoon with almost 3.5 hours of competing and 1.5 hours of warming up, etc.  I am happy to report, though, that I am in a great position going into tonight’s finals.  I ended up second after preliminaries and once they drop the optionals score, I will be in third.  You might be asking me why I would want to be second instead of first.  Well, the pressure.  I have been first going into finals every year, but when it comes to finals, I have been 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, but never have I won.  So, I see this as an opportunity for me to get out there and really compete tonight. 

I am also excited because my prelims wasn’t spectacular.  I didn’t really hit much of anything.  I like it that way because it means that I have so much room for improvement and the only way to go is up.  I really can’t wait for tonight.  I actually leave in 45 minutes and need to get a nap in before I go, but I guess I’ll tell you a little more about prelims. 

It was so nerve racking and my nerves got the best of me.  I held back on some dives that I just needed to be aggressive on and that’s my goal for tonight.  I don’t care how anyone else does; I only care about me tonight.  I know how full of myself I sound, but it’s the only way for me to committ to being focused and get ready to do my best.  I need to think, know, believe that I am the best tonight.  I have been so close to this title so many times and I just want it.  I have worked so hard this season and I am ready to put in the pool and dive my heart out.  I want to be this year’s champion. 

Wish me luck and stay posted!

A Herculian Conclusion


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I did it. I won the 3 meter competition for the NEWMAC conference, but it wasn’t just a win. I won by over 60 points to someone who has been top 5 at nationals every time she has gone. I can’t even believe it-I’m still in shock. Diving this weekend could not have been any more perfect. I concluded my career in the NEWMAC with the best performance of my career so far. I have never dove the way that I did on Sunday night.

I was aggressive on everything. I conscientiously made a decision that if I was going to make a mistake it would be a big mistake. For the first time in a long time, I wasn’t afraid of making a mistake. I embraced the thought. This mental attitude made all the difference. I went big for everything and I hit it big.

The most memorable dive of the evening was my reverse two and half somersault. I hurdled big. I jumped as high as I could and threw my arms so aggressively it scared me a little. Then, I waited. I saw the water once, twice and then kicked out. I reached so hard for the water. I was tight, reaching for the bottom of the pool, ready to rip and then I did. There was not a splash. It was textbook rip. The judges rewarded me with 8.5’s and a 9. I scored 71 points on that one dive. I typically average around 50. It was such a huge moment and at that point, I knew that I had won the meet.

I finished up my last two dives and had an amazing finish. I broke the NEWMAC, pool and MIT records. It’s a record that won’t be broken for a very long time and I would love to watch the competition of whoever does. I’m so proud and excited at my performance. It’s such an amazing end to the NEWMAC conference and an even bigger boost of confidence going into Nationals.

NEWMACs


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Well, I made it through prelims! I have never dove like I did today. It was unbelievable. I’m still on cloud 9. I had to come back from yesterdays six point deficient, which is not a lot, but I prefer to be ahead. I am now 16 points ahead of Smith’s Shanti Freitas going into the finals. I had a record breaking performance this afternoon as I set the NEWMAC record, MIT record, and my own personal best at 538 and some change. I can’t believe that it all came together.

I was so nervous going into this mornings preliminaries and the edge never subsided until I hit the water on that last dive. One dive after the next, I continued to jump high, land on my head, and rip. The lowest score that I got today was a 7 which is phenomenal in college diving. I even managed to get 9’s three times throughout the course of the competition. It was just one of those days where everything came together. I was aggressive and consistent. I wanted it and I did everything that I could to get that finish.

While this mornings performance puts me in a great place, I still have quite the competition ahead of me tonight. Shanti is a tough competitor and it’s going to take my best to come out on top. I’m confident and want to leave everything in the pool tonight. Never before have I felt such competition. I can’t wait to see what happens.

I will be confident. I will be aggressive. I will compete through the last dive.

NEWMACs


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I’m sitting on the pool deck after warm ups on day three of our conference championships. I had a stellar performance on Friday that put me over forty points ahead of the 2006 National runner up, Shanti Freitas of Smith, on 1 meter. I broke my NEWMAC record from last year and finished off my one meter stunt in the NEWMAC with a personal best. It was a fantastic way to open up the championship season.

It’s Sunday now, I have already gotten through the first half of prelims yesterday. I’m sitting in second place to Shanti and have another five dives to do this afternoon. Warm up went well-I didn’t really hit anything, but I didn’t miss anything either. It was just the way I like it. Now, I wait. I wait for the other flights to get through their warm ups. I wait for the swimmers to finish their prelims and then, it’s time.

I want to finish off this season winning both one meter and three meter. I want to go into Nationals knowing that I have out-dived at least one of my tough competitors. It’s my time and I am ready to close this. I will keep you posted on my progress.

MIT vs. Amherst


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This weekend No. 4 Amherst faced off No. 20 MIT. It was not an easy fight for the swimmers, but the Amherst women divers were not as strong since the graduation of Kate Shaw. As for me, something about this meet was different. I have been struggling all year finding my competitive edge. My biggest strength as a diver is being able to compete better than any of my competitors, but this entire year I have not been able to find that drive. I couldn’t really compete until now.

This weekend I found that raw determination that doesn’t allow failure, that draws pure focus. I finally felt like the national champion that I know that I am. Most of the time, I refuse to allow myself to be proud of that, but this week I let down my guard and put my entire self on the board. Go big or go home, that was my motto. It paid off. Even though I missed big on three meter, I still scored such that I am one of the top three women in the country and my three meter score pushed me up in the rankings after a new personal record.

I am so excited to have found my competitive edge and am ready to bring that focus and determination into practice. I want to practice like I will compete and I finally feel like I can. One dive at a time, one day at a time. The countdown has begun, 2.5 weeks until conference championships at Wellesley, 4.5 weeks until we leave for NCAA’s and just over 2 months until the Olympic Trial Qualifying Meet. I can’t wait to see what happens.

MIT vs. Tufts


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The annual MIT vs. Tufts dual meet was last weekend. Usually dual meets are just another practice for me. Nothing special or anything to really get worked up about, but Tufts is different. In order to appreciate the full magnitude of what it means to dive against Tufts, I must first explain to you my entire college career.

After joining the diving team, I made it my goal to be a national champion. I wanted to be an 8 time All-American (2 events per year, 1 meter and 3 meter, four years of diving). To be an All-American, one has to place top 8 at the NCAA national championships. Being an All-American wasn’t enough though, I wanted to be an 8 time national champion.

Going into my first championships at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, I really didn’t know what to expect. The pool was nothing fantastic, the hot tub didn’t work (a diving staple), and no one actually checked our passes when we tried to get on deck. I definitely didn’t feel like I was at a national championship, but then again, this is division III.

We got to the championships on a Tuesday evening, checked into the hotel, and settled down for the night. The next morning, we went in for my first workout. It was nothing spectacular, but I got used to the boards and got all the stiffness out from the airplane ride. After a big meal and a nap, we went back to the pool for another routine workout. It was supposed to be more of the same, just getting back into the groove of things at a foreign pool and with all new competitors, but it wasn’t. The diver from Amherst, who was the favorite for the meet, hit the board, hard. She hit the board hard enough to break both of her hands in multiple spots. I don’t remember the actual number, but I think she had about 7-8 broken bones between her two hands.

“Great,” I thought. “I’m not nervous enough about hitting the board, but now I got to actually witness it.”

Only 22 girls qualify for the championships and now that the Amherst girl was hurt, everyone wanted to know whether or not the alternate would be called in. What was Kate Shaw going to decide? What would any of us do? Dive anyway.

So, one meter preliminaries began. The favorite had really lost ground and the title was up for grabs. I dove the best that I could and when the preliminaries were over, I looked up at the rankings and realized that I was on top. How did that happen? To this day, I’m not exactly sure, but the competition was nowhere near over. We returned that evening and I was more nervous than I could ever imagine, but I just took it one dive at a time. At the end of my 6 dives in final, though, my name was not the one on top. Disappointed, I ended up third. As my dad told me afterwards, third is pretty good for a freshman. I guess he had a point. At least, I was still an All-American.

The next morning my coach had to fly out to coach some other divers at a division I meet. So, there I was, at nationals without a coach. Technically, the head swim coach was there with me to make sure I made it from the hotel to the pool, but as far as coaching went, I was the diver up for grabs on the deck. Thankfully, the Springfield coach took me on and coached me all the way through three meter.

Now, Kate Shaw was officially two days into her recovery at this point and was feeling much better after a lot of pain medications. She ended up last on one meter, but she wasn’t about to let her senior season be ruined by some broken hands. Back in the game, Kate Shaw changed her list the day of the competition and was ready to compete. Using the momentum I had gained from one meter the day before, I worked my way through a fantastic three meter competition and edged away from Kate at the very end of the meet.

The reason I tell you about Kate is that the only reason I won a national title my freshman year was because the person who should have won had two broken hands and still almost beat me. Regardless, though, I dove well and became a national champion, the NCAA diver of the year, MIT’s freshman athlete of the year and MIT’s female athlete of the year. A truly fantastic end to an amazing start to my diving career.

Now, where does Tufts come into all of this? My sophomore year, nationals didn’t go as well as I had hoped. After a huge knee buckle on one meter and an almost failed dive, I did everything I could to scavenge up a fourth place finish on one meter. Disappointed with my one meter performance, I was determined to come back and win the three meter board. That too, didn’t go as I had planned. Diving head to head with Kendall Swett from Lake Forest the entire meet, I over-twisted my last dive by 10 degrees and my scores dropped from 7’s to 4’s and Kendall took the title, stole the national record, and grabbed diver of the year. To rub it in a little bit more, MIT forgot about me. I got back to campus and it wasn’t, “Congratulations on getting second at Nationals,” it was, “What happened? Why did you lose?” I felt complete swept under the rug.

Getting through the rest of that school year was all about how I had lost the title. I was a four time All-American, but all that really mattered was that I had lost. Second is never good enough for an institution that prides itself at being the best, always.

Well, despite the loss, I still loved diving and I was still determined as ever to win again, but my determination was not enough for what I was about to face. Kendall Swett would be transferring to Tufts–the school that I practice with every day, share a coach with, am teammates with. Kendall was going to be my new training partner and teammate. Great! Not only did I lose, but now she was going to be around every day to remind me about it.

So last year began with Kendall and I, two National Champions, sharing everything. It’s weird though, from a rivalry so strong grew a friendship even stronger. The Boston Globe did an article on our relationship and I encourage you to read it if you want to know more about Kendall and me.

The big question last year was who would get the title. We each had one and no one knew what the outcome of the meet would be. Well, it didn’t go anywhere near as we had expected. A new rival jumped into the scene–Erica Deur, from Calvin College. Kendall didn’t even make it to finals on one meter and Erica ended up out-diving me in the finals to win the meet. I got my highest finish on one meter that year. When it came time for three meter though, it was all about Kendall and me. After an intense preliminaries, Kendall and I were an entire dive ahead of the competition and she once again out-dove me and re-set her national record. Discouraged, again, I was ready to fight for a title. I was an entire dive behind going into finals after a couple bad voluntary dives. I really didn’t have a shot, but I dove with heart. I put everything on the boards and decided regardless of the outcome, I was going to have fun. I did just that. I had so much fun that I won my second national title.

Although Erica was rewarded diver of the year, MIT remembered me and awarded me female athlete of the year, even President Hockfield sent me a congratulatory email. I felt like my school was once again proud to me call me their own.

My entire college career can be summed up so far as 6 All-American honors, 2 National titles, and 5 medaled finishes at the championship. Regardless, every time I compete with Kendall, it becomes a national championship. It becomes more and more intense. So competing in just a dual meet with her was and will never be just a dual meet. It’s another opportunity to enjoy the sport and really feel competition.

What happens this year? I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Stay posted!