As many of you know, a new competitive calendar structure that will begin in 2015 passed nearly unanimously at the 2013 annual meeting.
There’s been some fine tuning of the exact details over the past few months, and we’re ready to let you know what these changes mean for you. We hope you’ll agree they are for the better of the sport.
Let’s start with the spring. Beginning next year, the Junior Spring Region Championships and the East and West Junior National Championships will be replaced by the USA Diving Synchronized National Championships. This new event will promote and encourage participation in synchronized diving from a young age; competition will include open competition as well as competition in 13-and-under and 14-18 age groups. No qualification meet will be required, so you can plan more effectively while eliminating the expense and travel time of going to a region meet. If you meet the degree of difficulty requirements, you’re qualified to go to nationals for the opportunity to become a national champion – and possibly represent the U.S. internationally, as the nationals will be used for team selections to major meets. Junior and senior divers will be competing at the same meet, so younger divers will benefit from the experience of diving alongside Olympians and other elite divers.
We’ll have more information about the synchronized national championships as it gets closer, but we encourage you to start thinking about a partner or partners if you haven’t yet tried synchronized diving. Synchronized diving is proven to aid in long-term athlete development in both skills and technique, and it’s also shown to benefit your competitive ability with a shift in mental focus (you don’t want to let your partner down). Why not give it a try?
After the synchronized nationals, we’ll begin the process of qualifying for the summer championships.
With our membership continuing to grow, we’ve restructured the competitive program to allow for greater participation. We’ve expanded to 12 regions and six zones, up from 10 and five (please see the NEW Regional Alignment and Zone Alignment maps). We’re hopeful that adding these new regions and zones also will decrease costs and travel time by providing meets that are relatively more local for participants.
Junior divers will begin their qualification process at one of 12 region championships in late April. We realize this is much earlier than the current system with summer region meets in June, but this shift will allow for more time to plan and prepare for the next level of competition rather than having to turn around and head straight to the next meet with almost no time in between.
From the region meets, the top 15 junior divers in each springboard event in each age group (platform is encouraged at region meets but is not a required qualifying event) plus any diver who meets the zone qualifying score will move on to the zone national preliminaries, where they’ll be joined by senior divers. In an effort to reduce travel time and costs, the junior and senior events will be held at the same meet, which will take place in June. Junior divers trying to qualify in senior events will no longer have to go to two separate meets.
The top 12 finishers in each junior event (1-3 will advance directly to the semifinals, while places 4-12 will dive in the quarterfinals) at each of the six national preliminary meets will advance to the championships, as will the top five finishers in each senior event. The championships, to be held July 28-August 13, will be a combined meet with both junior and senior events taking place throughout the competition.
We’ll also continue to have the USA Diving Winter National Championships, with that meet remaining a senior-level event.
Stay tuned for more information as we continue to prepare for these exciting changes next year, and good luck during the 2014 season.