2016 NCAA Diving Qualifiers: Who Benefits Most From The Boards?

The final round of NCAA invites wrapped up last week, with all five NCAA Zone Diving events finalizing the entire slate of NCAA rosters. Which teams ruled the Zones and how will the diving lists impact the NCAA team scoring race?

First of all, a brief recap of our diving coverage:

Diving qualifiers are going to affect the team races in the two genders in pretty distinct ways. We’ll dive (get it?) into each separately below. Before that, though, it’s worth noting that this is a major exercise in projection, as it’s much harder to compare divers from different zones than it is to compare swimming times between different conference meets.

It’s also worth noting how much turnover there is from last year’s diving results. The coming Olympics have brought a slew of redshirt seasons in diving, enough so that between graduations and redshirt seasons, 5 of 6 2015 NCAA diving champions do not return, along with large portions of every A final.

In fact, only 10 of 24 A finals slots return from last year’s women’s NCAA meet, and only 8 of 24 return on the men’s side.

*Note: The numbers listed for each team are based on our best head count from each zone’s results. If something doesn’t look right, let us know and we’ll update the numbers accordingly.


The women’s diving invites are spread around remarkably well. Based on our scoring of the psych sheets, the top 13 ranked programs will all have at least one diver competing at NCAAs.

Not all divers have equal chances of scoring, of course. Stanford appears to have helped their cause the most, qualifying 3 divers, including returning NCAA platform scorer Lillian Hinrichs. Stanford should also have a decent shot at scoring sophomore Gracia Leydon-Mahoney, who took 4th, 5th and 6th in her three events in Zone E.

California scored out better than any other team on the psych sheets, but they’ll need a big push to add any additional diving points. Phoebe LaMay and Anne Kastler both qualified, but were low in the Zone E pecking order.

Virginia added three divers out of Zone A. That was one of the weaker zones in terms of NCAA qualifying spots – which are based on that zone’s success at previous NCAA meets – but zone success can fluctuate wildly year-to-year based on incoming and outgoing talent.

Georgia and USC each have one diver in to round out the top 5 teams on the psych sheet. Olivia Ball competed at NCAAs for Georgia in 2015 but didn’t score. She looks miles ahead of there as a sophomore, though, after taking 2nd on both 1-meter and 3-meter in a tough Zone B. USC freshman Madison Witt could be a borderline scorer – she took 5th on platform in Zone E.

A few other notable teams that stand to benefit from the diving qualifiers:

  • Minnesota returns NCAA 3-meter champ Yu Zhou, who is also the top returner on 1-meter. She leads a roster of 3 Golden Gopher divers.
  • Tennessee has freshman Rachel Rubadue set to make a big impact. She won the platform in Zone B and also placed highly on 3-meter.
  • The Florida women, meanwhile, return All-American Kahlia Warner, who won the 3-meter and 1-meter titles in that zone.
  • Purdue qualified three divers, including returning 1-meter A finalist Mary-Beth Dunnichay.
  • Kentucky‘s Rebecca Hamperian is a returning A finalist on 1-meter and 3-meter and is one of two NCAA-invited Wildcat divers.
  • UCLA and Miami (Ohio) each return NCAA A finalists as well. UCLA’s Maria Polyakova leads 3 Bruins, while Miami has last year’s 3-meter NCAA runner-up Pei Lin, who won both springboards in Zone C.

Psych Sheet Scores + Diving Qualifiers

Rank Teams Scores Divers
1 California 398 2
2 Stanford 375 3
3 Virginia 313 3
4 Georgia 280 1
5 USC 264.33 1
6 Texas A&M 261.5 2
7 Louisville 227 1
8 NC State 192 1
9 Indiana 190 2
10 Tennessee 158.33 2
11 Michigan 156.5 3
12 Texas 142 2
13 Ohio St 94 1
14 Arizona 81.33 0
15 UNC 71 2
16 Florida 66 1
17 Missouri 63 1
18 Purdue 39 3
19 UCLA 20 3
20 Virginia Tech 20 2
21 Boise St 20
22 UMBC 17
23 LSU 15 3
24 Alabama 14
25 Kentucky 14 2
26 Cincinnati 12
27 Wisconsin 10
28 Iowa 9 2
29 Air Force 9 1
30 Auburn 7
31 SMU 6
32 Penn St 6
33 Minnesota 4 3
34 EMU 3
35 FGCU 3
36 Denver 3
37 Oregon St 1


Where the wealth of diving invites was spread pretty equally between the contenders on the women’s side, the men’s meet is much more a case of “haves” and “have-nots.” Texas has set itself up beautifully for a repeat title run, qualifying 3 divers after already leading psych sheet scoring by 30.5

Texas can only enter 2 of those divers, though, as they already qualified 17 swimmers. (Each diver counts has half a roster spot towards the limit of 18 per team). The other option would be keeping all three divers and axing a swimmer from the NCAA team. With Mark Anderson and Cory Bowersox both returning as NCAA finalists, the choice probably comes down to Sean O’Brien (4th on 3-meter in Zone D) against the 2-3 swimmers on Texas’s roster who aren’t virtual locks to score.

Of the top 5 men’s programs, Auburn and Florida also did well. The Tigers have two divers in. Senior Justin Yousey qualified but didn’t score last year. He took second on 1-meter in a pretty tough Zone B this year. Scott Lazeroff is a freshman who was 4th on platform. Florida has freshman Samuel Smith, who finished 6th in that platform event.

But then there are the “have-nots.” NC State (2nd on the psych sheet scores), California (5th) and Michigan (7th) are without any diving entrants. Cal and Michigan have a tendency to swim up from their seeds at NCAAs, but will still have a tough time tracking down Texas when diving is taken into account. NC State’s best shot at challenging Texas is by crushing relay points, which they’ll have to do to overcome the diving deficit.

A few other notable teams that stand to benefit from the diving qualifiers:

  • Tennessee got two divers in but should get big points from both. Mauricio Robles won 1-meter and 3-meter in Zone B, while Liam Stone was second on 3-meter. Both are returning NCAA A finalists on 3-meter.
  • USC earned three diving invites, including returning NCAA scorer Collin Pollard.
  • Matt Barnard of Minnesota is the top returning diver on platform. He’s one of an NCAA-high 4 Minnesota men earning diving bids. That list also includes returning NCAA scorers Manny Pollard and Dylan Zoe.
  • Arizona‘s only diving entrant is a good one: Rafael Quintero is the a returning A finalist on both 1-meter and platform.
  • The other teams tying Minnesota with 4 diving invites are Stanford, Ohio State and Virginia Tech. Ohio State looks set up the best, with Zhipeng Zeng sweeping all three boards in a relatively-tough Zone C. Virginia Tech’s Logan Stevens was the Zone A platform champ, while Stanford’s divers all finished between 4th and 7th in their top qualifying events in Zone E.

Psych Sheet Scores + Diving Qualifiers

Rank Team Projected Score Divers
1 Texas-ST 407.5 3
2 NC State-NC 377 0
3 Florida-FL 319.5 1
4 Auburn-SE 283.5 2
5 California-PC 279.5 0
6 Michigan-MI 223.5 0
7 Indiana-IN 221.5 2
8 Alabama-SE 179.5 2
9 Louisville-KY 151.5 1
10 Georgia-GA 146 1
11 Missouri-MV 124.5 2
12 Southern Cali-CA 115.5 3
13 Stanford-PC 109 4
14 Arizona-AZ 79 1
15 Tennessee-SE 70.5 2
16 Ohio St-OH 60 4
17 Virginia Tech-VA 58.5 4
18 Wisconsin-WI 39.5 0
19 South Carolina-SC 39 1
20 UNC-NC 33 1
21 Brigham Young-UT 23 1
22 Princeton-NJ 21
23 Minnesota-MN 17.5 4
24 Purdue-IN 16 2
25 Duke-NC 15 1
26 Harvard-NE 14
27 UNLV (M)-CA 14
28 Penn-MA 14
29 LSU-LA 14
30 Iowa-IA 13 1
31 Air Force (M)-CO 13 1
32 West Virginia-WV 12.5
33 Virginia-VA 12
34 Florida St-FL 9 1
35 Cornell-NI 9
36 Yale-CT 7
37 Notre Dame-IN 6
38 Cleveland State-LE 6
39 Univ of Utah-UT 5 2
40 Arizona St-AZ 4 1
41 Denver-CO 1.5
42 George Washington-PV 1

Leave a Reply

2 Comment threads
1 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
3 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted

Would you please renumber the men’s scoring spreadsheet? There seems to be a mixup between WVU and Air Force, Wisconsin and South Carolina, and, Michigan and Indiana

Diving Mom

The number of individual divers qualified per school is not nearly as important as how many events those divers will compete in. For example, Stanford’s 3 women divers have a total of 7 events; Cal’s 2 divers have a total of 2 events. You really need another column on the right side of your tables for this information.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

Read More »

Want to take your swimfandom to the next level?

Subscribe to SwimSwam Magazine!