Diving will be the first portion of the Pac-12 championships as the UCSB men’s swim and dive team looks to compete against some of the top teams in the country this weekend. Freshman Lester Wright will be the lone diver representing the Gauchos in these diving events.
Wright has gone through preliminaries and will be competing starting Wednesday and lasting through Saturday in the finals of each of the diving events. On Saturday, Wright will compete in the platform, which has proven to be his best event.
“Lester is one of the best divers on the west coast,” Head Coach Gregg Wilson said. “He has been working out very well the last couple days and he should give us more points than we have ever had going into this competition.”
Wright has shined in his short tenure at UCSB thus far. In the men’s opening dual meet this season, Wright came in second in both the one and three-meter dives with scores of 320.60 and 330.80, respectively.
In the Gauchos’ next meet against UC San Diego, Wright showed steady improvement. He was able to notch first in both the one and three-meter dives with scores of 376.70 and 365.85, respectively. Wright was also able to take first in these events at the Bulldog Diving Invitational this season, beating his competition of 19 divers by more than 40 points in each event.
Wright must put together a strong performance if he wishes to give the Gauchos a good starting position as they head into the swimming portion of these championships. If Wright can make it into the top eight during preliminary dives, he can guarantee UCSB at least 11 points.
“Lester has a good chance of getting in the top eight,” Wilson said. “When you get into the championship meet, all of these points go up and I think Lester has the potential to do some pretty amazing things.”
Points in the diving portion will be crucial for the Gauchos as the competition in the swimming events is shaping up to be some of the most competitive in years. Four of the Pac-12 teams competing rank in the top 15 in the country, including three ranking in the top 10.
Along with much needed points, Wright also has the opportunity to get some solid practice in before attempting to qualify for the NCAA championships that take place on March 15. Wright must use this meet as a catapult to carry him into an upcoming regional zone meet.
Following the championships, Wright will meet with all of the division one schools in UCSB’s specific zone. In order to qualify, Wright must finish in the top four out of about 35 divers.
“Our goal is to get Lester into the NCAA championships,” Wilson said. “He definitely has the ability to finish in the top four and qualify.”
Finals of the three-meter dive will take place today from 6 to 9 p.m. followed by finals of the one-meter dive starting on Friday at 3:30 p.m. Saturday will be the final platform dive final, which will take place at 1:15 p.m.
This article is an online exclusive and did not appear in the print edition of The Daily Nexus.