NCAA Champ Sarah Bacon, Scoring Diver Kristen Hayden To Sit Out NCAA For MN

Two key Minnesota divers will sit out the coming NCAA season to prepare for the 2020 Olympic year: NCAA champ Sarah Bacon and scorer Kristen Hayden.

The University confirmed this week that the two divers will take the year off from collegiate competition. They were two of Minnesota’s four returning scorers from 2019 NCAAs.

Bacon was the team’s top scorer last year, winning the national 1-meter title and taking 5th on 3-meter. She was in line for two top-3 finishes this season, based on graduations ahead of her on 3-meter. Hayden, meanwhile, was 11th on 3-meter last year and just missed scoring on 1-meter (22nd) and platform (20th). Factoring out seniors ahead of her would have moved Hayden into B final range in both of those events, and she was projected to score 20+ points.

The absences of those two combined with Canadian distance specialist Mackenzie Padington (also sitting out to prepare for an Olympic bid) leaves Minnesota with just one of their four underclassmen scorers returning from 2019 NCAAs – that’s breaststroker Lindsey Kozelsky.

Bacon is coming off a huge diving summer in which she won World Championships silver on 1-meter. That was a historic medal, Team USA’s first women’s diving medal in that event since 1991. Bacon also won 1-meter gold and 3-meter synchro silver at the Pan American Games.

Hayden was a World Junior Championships team member for the U.S. in 2016. Last year, she was 12th on 1-meter and 11th on 3-meter at the USA Diving Winter Diving Trials.

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3 years ago

focusing on long-course diving all year.Smart.

3 years ago

Man, Gophers taking a huge hit for this year:/

Reply to  Articuno
3 years ago

Our pre-season rankings taking an even bigger hit :-/

3 years ago

For diving, what is the point in a redshirt year? Wouldn’t they not need to ‘taper’ for a meet and could use those meets as ways to practice their dives more? Is there something I am missing?>

Reply to  ace
3 years ago

Avoiding injury I would presume. Training would be lighter on the body and perhaps not as much full out competition. Platform especially is brutal on your joints.

Phil McDade
Reply to  hookem91
3 years ago

Or specializing in one board; not unusual to see platform specialists who aren’t great on 1-meter and vice-versa. In college for a team like Minnesota competing for top 10 spot at NCAAs, divers likely needed for all 3 disciplines. Sitting out a year allows a diver to more finely hone a particularly strong (1-meter/3-meter/platform) discipline.

Reply to  ace
3 years ago

There’s a few reasons. For one, there is a fairly high risk of injury in diving with the amount of strain on their bodies. For two, the 1-meter is not an Olympic event, and at that uber-elite level, most divers are concentrating on only one board height, so this allows them to super-specialize without putting extra strain on their bodies. It also gives the school bigger value out of their 4 years of eligibility and the scholarships that go with it.

The other benefit is the ability to train for synchro events with their synchro partner, who almost never attend the same college in the states. I would guess that is a big driver, if not the primary driver, in… Read more »

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 …

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