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Thursday, September 28, 2023


PLAYER PROFILE: Pozdniakova dives into record books

Senior diver Anastasia Pozdniakova should have no problem filling her trophy case when her career at UH is over.

Since arriving at UH in 2004, Pozdniakova has won more awards than most fans can keep up with. Her performance last weekend in North Carolina was the latest addition to a stellar career and reaffirms her status as an elite diver.

In the competitions at Duke and North Carolina-Wilmington, Pozdniakova won the 1- and 3-meter events at each venue. Pozdniakova’s four NCAA ‘A’ scores were pool records for Duke and North Carolina-Wilmington. That performance earned Pozdniakova her first Conference USA Diver of the Week award of the season and the15th of her career.

Pozdniakova said she was pleased with setting the records, given the circumstances.

‘The first day, I went up against Abby Johnston, and she was pretty good,’ Pozdniakova said. ‘She went to the NCAAs last year, so that was pretty good to beat her, but on Saturday it was a Division III school ‘hellip; it wasn’t very good conditions, but it’s always a good thing to set records.’

Pozdniakova’s personal dive began in Russia, where she was born. Unlike her high-pressure life here, Pozdniakova said her childhood was relaxed.

‘I played with my friends a lot outside, and then (at) school of course ‘hellip; after school, I went to practice and then after practice I went home,’ Pozdniakova said.

At home, Pozdniakova lived in a close-knit family of four.

‘I have an older brother and then my mom and dad,’ Pozdniakova said. ‘They always support me. Then one day I wanted to do diving, (and) they told me I couldn’t do it, so I guess I wanted to do it (more).’

Pozdniakova said the reason she came to UH was because of diving head coach Jane Figueiredo.

‘Jane sold me into coming here,’ Pozdniakova said.

Pozdniakova said her time at UH has been a unique experience.

‘It was definitely different in Russia,’ Pozdniakova said. ‘I’ve made a lot of adjustments, but I’m getting used to it. It’s been great; I’ve had my best times here, and it’s a great opportunity.’

Pozdniakova has certainly taken advantage of that opportunity. She has won C-USA Diver of the Year twice. She competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and won a silver medal, and also competed in the 3-meter synchronized diving event at the International Swimming Federation Championships with UH Alumna Yulia Pakhalina.

In 2009, Pozdniakova was the NCAA 1-meter diving champion and 3-meter diving runner-up. Pozdniakova said winning the 3-meter is one of her goals.

‘As a diver, of course winning the Olympics is my goal,’ Pozdniakova said. ‘I really want to win 3-meters, because I’ve only won 1-meter.’

Among other accomplishments, Pozdniakova also won the Cougar of the Year award for 2008-09. Pozdniakova said she was happier about winning the award this time.

‘It was great because the year before I won Co-Cougar of the Year,’ Pozdniakova said.

Of all her accomplishments, Pozdniakova said she’s most proud of winning silver in the Olympics.

‘The competition wasn’t so different from many other competitions,’ Pozdniakova said. ‘But just to be there and experience it was a lot of fun.’

With all that she’s been through, Pozdniakova said the key to her success is not getting distracted.

‘I think it’s just doing what I have to do in practice,’ Pozdniakova said. ‘I have to stay pretty focused at the meets and just do what I have to and do what coach tells me because it always helps.’

Meanwhile, Pozdniakova will also concentrate on a major in art history with emphasis in painting and a minor in studio art. Pozdniakova said she spent a lot of time in art.

‘Well, when I was younger I went to an art school for about six years, so I was kind of interested in art,’ Pozdniakova said.

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