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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Swimming & Diving

Diving team propels squad to second place finish


ECU diver Sean Picante contorts his body for a tough dive. | Catherine Lara/The Daily Cougar

ECU diver Sean Picante contorts his body for a tough dive. | Catherine Lara/The Daily Cougar

Three UH divers were responsible for nine of the medals won as they placed top three in every diving event at the in this year’s Conference USA Swimming and Diving Championships. Senior diver Julia Lonnegren, sophomore Natasha Burgess and freshman Danielle Shedd all were part of the nine medal sweep that led UH to a second-place finish.

Lonnegren was named the C-USA Women’s Diver of the Year as she won two of events in the competition. She took first in the 3-meter diving event with an overall score of 346.15 points. Following Lonnegren were her two team mates, Burgess and Shedd, who both scored 328.15 and 259.35 respectively.

Burgess went on to win gold in the 1-meter diving event, beating out Lonnegren and Shedd, with a score of 304.35. Lonnegren took home gold in the platform dive with a score of 248.40.

Diving coach Jane Figueiredo won her twelfth C-USA Diving Coach of the Year award after her athlete’s performance.

“This is one of the most awesome group of girls I have ever witnessed,” Figueiredo said. “The girls, team, coaching, camaraderie it has all came together and blended really well.“

The Cougars’ swimming team took second this weekend — their highest finish since a 2009 second place finish. Building upon the success of the first day of competition, the Cougars secured 18 medals over the three-day event.

“The first day is the most important day because you gain so many points, and you see all your teammates cheering; it gives you an extra boost,” said senior swimmer Reka Kovacs.

UH relay teams took home five medals and broke four school records in four of the relays. The Cougars took third in the 200 medley relay, 800 free relay, 200 free relay, 400 medley relay and in the 400 free relay.

After sweeping the top three spots in the three diving events, the Cougars were in first place with 564.5 points with only five events left in the competition. Rice had a big showing in the 100 freestyle that took four Rice swimmers to the finals. After the event, Rice led UH by 13.5 points, and the Cougars took second place overall.

Despite the performance by senior swimmer Holli Pisarski and Kovac who came in second and third place respectively, the Cougars still trailed Rice for first place overall. Rice won the C-USA Swimming and Diving Championships with a score of 739 points, with UH trailing with 694.5 points.

UH swimming head coach Augie Busch said he was proud of the team.

“I’m on cloud nine right now,” said Busch. “This is one of the best meets I’ve ever been a part of as far as coaching. I couldn’t be more proud of the women on this team. The divers were huge and Jane (Figueiredo) operates on a level of excellence that I try to match on a daily basis.“

Junior Heather Winn placed second in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:52.42 and added 17 points to UH’s overall total. Winn also placed third in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:48.74.

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