For Woodinville native Carrie Dragland, diving trials are a platform for the future
While she won't make it to London this year, Dragland has her eyes on an NCAA title.
Seattle Times staff reporter
FEDERAL WAY — By the luck of the draw, Woodinville native Carrie Dragland was the last to dive in the women's 10-meter platform competition during the U.S. Olympic trials preliminary stage Wednesday.
As she approached the platform at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center, Dragland calmly focused on the adjustments she'd need to make in her first attempt at making the Olympic team.
She was competing against 31 other divers for two spots on the team, but the 23-year-old Bothell High School graduate preferred to think of it as a performance.
That's how Randy Ableman, Dragland's coach at the University of Miami, challenges her to look at diving.
"I'll look great in practice, but when it comes to meets, it's just about finding that zone," Dragland said. "I've been working on mental training."
Dragland finished 14th in the prelims Wednesday morning, good enough to advance to the evening's semifinals. In the semifinal round, she finished 13th, one spot away from making the finals.
Dragland, 23, didn't start diving competitively until she was 18, but finished second in the state high-school championships as a senior at Bothell. She was a gymnast first, winning the state all-around title in 2006 and 2007.
After taking a year off to train full-time, her first college stop was Alabama, where she was the Southeastern Conference female diver of the year as a freshman. Before her junior year, she transferred to Miami. In 2011, she was the first woman in 11 years to claim All-America honors in all three diving events at the NCAA championships.
Because she got such a late start in diving, Ableman decided to redshirt Dragland this season.
"I think she has a chance to win an NCAA championship," Ableman said. "Every year she's in this sport, she's going to get better until she decides to hang it up."
Dragland has been working with a sports psychologist, which Ableman said is just as crucial as the physical element on these big stages.
"Everything happens so fast," Ableman said. "The tricks are so intricate that split second of being unsure of yourself or super positive can be the difference between success and complete failure."
While Dragland was pleased to qualify for the semifinals, competing in front of friends and family in the pool where she learned to dive, she thought she could have done better. But she understands it's a learning process. She said her trials experience will help her accomplish other goals, such as winning an NCAA title.
"I feel like I'll be able to achieve that if I can get the mental part of it down and the competitive side of it down," she said.
Partners lead semis
Kristian Ipsen missed only one dive in advancing to the 3-meter springboard final with the top score Wednesday night.
He led throughout the six-round semifinal, scoring 993.80 points and putting more distance between him and synchro partner Troy Dumais, who is bidding to join Greg Louganis as the only American men to make four Olympic diving teams.
Dumais totaled 954.20 after missing two dives. Scores carry over to Sunday's final.
A pair of 2008 Olympians was close behind. Chris Colwill was third at 951.15, with Thomas Finchum fourth at 836.85. Dumais' brothers, Justin and Dwight, were fifth and sixth among the 12 divers advancing to the final.
Ipsen is seeking his first Olympic berth, although the Stanford sophomore-to-be has two world meets under his belt. He and Dumais won a silver medal in 3-meter synchro at the 2009 worlds in Rome, and they were fourth last year in Shanghai. They own the lead going into Friday's synchro springboard final.
"It's kind of a weird dynamic," Ipsen said about competing against and with Dumais. "But we've been doing this for so long, so it feels kind of natural."
On women's 10-meter platform, Brittany Viola led all five prelim rounds in scoring 380.55 points, including a 10.0 on her first dive. Katie Bell was second at 339.25.
Viola is competing in her third trials. She came close to making the Olympic team four years ago, but finished fourth.
"There's been a lot of lessons, a lot of them have been very challenging," she said. "My body feels very good."
The Associated Press contributed
to this report