CANTWELL: Giving diving its due

Diving performances often win or lose meets


Junior diver Kylie Towbin was instrumental in the women’s swim and dive team’s 10-0 record in dual meets. 

Courtesy UVAToday

Throughout the winter season, I’ve been covering the men’s and women’s swim and dive teams. A lot of the time, diving gets forgotten in casual conversation — but the consistently strong performances of Virginia’s divers, especially the women, have been a major part of their success this season.

At a typical dual meet during the regular season, the diving competition takes place before any of the swimming events. The stands are empty — though they will be packed later in the day — the pool deck is not lined with swimmers from both teams and the atmosphere is strangely quiet. The only people around the pool are the few divers from either team, some meet officials, the occasional journalist and the two diving coaches, who serve as judges for the meet.

Generally, each diver has six attempts in each event. The scores from each dive are totaled for the final event score, and the diver with the highest total score wins. The three diving events in NCAA competition are the one meter, the three meter and the platform. However, most dual meets do not include a platform event.

The points accrued in diving are added to the swimming scores and often can decide the balance of a meet. And throughout the regular season, Virginia’s women’s divers — especially sophomore Sydney Dusel and junior Kylie Towbin — were instrumental in the women’s team’s 10-0 record in dual meets. 

Towbin was named ACC Diver of the Week twice this season, including on Jan. 23 following two meets against North Carolina State and North Carolina in which she finished first in the three-meter dive both times. Against North Carolina, she set a Virginia record with a score of 355.05. Dusel also won the one-meter dive against North Carolina State.

At the women’s ACC Championships this past weekend, Virginia divers again helped their swimming teammates to a title, as the Cavaliers won their 10th ACC championship in 11 seasons. 

Towbin and Dusel finished fourth and seventh, respectively, in the platform, and senior Corey Johnson finished 12th. Dusel finished sixth and Johnson finished 15th in the three-meter, and Towbin finished eighth in the one-meter.

Following the tragic death of incoming freshman diver Josh Richardson over the summer, the Virginia men’s diving team was left with just two divers — freshman Tristan Gess and sophomore Bryce Shelton. Both Gess and Shelton missed meets this season, as well, leading to some close losses for the Cavaliers when their opponents were able to capture most or all of the diving points.

For instance, Virginia lost to Louisville in November by a score of 197.5 to 166.5. Gess and Shelton were out with health issues — leaving all 32 points from diving events to Louisville, who won by 31 points. Though diving takes place mostly behind closed doors, it is impossible to deny that it doesn’t matter.

I’ve certainly been guilty of saying I cover the “swim team” or that I’m going to a “swim meet.” But after following this team all season, I’ve been trying to break that habit. Not only are Virginia’s divers immensely talented and deserve to be recognized for their diving skill, the impact diving scores have on a meet is not something to take lightly. 

Colin Cantwell is an associate editor for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at

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