Daily Egyptian

Saluki to compete in NCAA Championship

By Matt Wells, @mattwells_DE

SIU Diver Kaixuan “Sherry” Zhang is competing for the second year in a row in the NCAA Diving Championships starting Thursday.

Zhang qualified in both the 3-meter and 1-meter dives with scores of 682.45 and 634.05 respectively at the NCAA Zone C regional championship from March 10 to 13 at Ohio State University.

In last year’s championship, Zhang finished third in the 3-meter dive where she scored 385.20 and 11th in the 1-meter dive where she scored 296.75.

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She said her teammates’ and coaches’ support has aided her.

“This season, my coach Joy [Zhao] and my teammates, they help me and correct me,” Zhang said. “We always tell each other, you should do this, or you shouldn’t do this.” 

Zhang said attention to detail in the sport is paramount.

“Your toes, your hands, like especially when you’re really close to someone, the judge will look at your dive really detailed,” she said. “They could deduct your point for even a little mistake you make, so we train a lot.”

Zhang, a nine-time Missouri Valley Conference Diver of the Week honoree, is obsessed with her craft.

“When I have nothing to do, I just think about my dive,” Zhang said. “I imagine I’m diving and standing on a board and just pretend I’m diving.”

It is not all roses for the MVC Diver of the Year. Zhang said even really good divers have trouble under pressure.

SIU swim coach Rick Walker said Zhang’s preparation for the NCAA Championship is the same as it has been all season.

“It takes a lot of work,” Walker said. “It takes a lot of practice, just repetition.”

Walker said Zhang has an advantage because she has competed in the meet before. 

“Now she knows how to prepare once she gets up there and gets nervous, she knows what’s making her nervous,” Walker said. “She’s now mentally had time to practice overcoming that.”

Zhang first dives Thursday at the Greenboro Aquatic Center in Greensboro, N.C.

Matt Wells can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-6311 ext. 269.

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