Sarah Bacon’s Olympic journey

After a successful summer of competition for Team USA, Gophers diver, Sarah Bacon, has her eyes set on the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. 

Bacon began making headlines in mid-July at the FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea. She won silver on the 1-meter springboard, making her the first American female diver to medal in an Olympic or world championship event since Laura Wilkinson in 2005. That was only the beginning. 

Bacon also competed for Team USA at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. There she won another silver medal in the synchronized 3-meter alongside her partner Brooke Schultz. It was the first time Schultz and Bacon had competed together in four years, and with only two days to prepare prior to the event, they were forced to regain their chemistry at a rapid pace. 

“I think we had two full practices before we started the event, so it was really quick,” Bacon said. “We kind of just threw it together and we did it.” 

That wasn’t the end of her success at the Pan-Am Games. Bacon also won gold on the 1-meter springboard. While the first place finish on 1-meter was her goal, she took pride in a different accomplishment.

“I think the more exciting thing is that we were able to go first and second, me and Brooke [Schultz], both on 1-meter,” she said. “That was huge for the USA, we were really happy about that.” 

Moving forward, Bacon will use an Olympic redshirt this upcoming season to focus on training and securing a spot in the 2020 Olympics. While the FINA World Championships are an Olympic qualifier, the 1-meter is not an Olympic event. Currently, the US has not filled any individual or synchronized spots in the 3-meter. Bacon plans to increase her training schedule to “two-a-day” practices to secure one of the vacant spots and prepare for 2020.

“The first qualification was world championships in South Korea, and me and Brooke Schultz, we didn’t have the best meet, we didn’t get those spots. Hopefully we can at World Cup, we’re not worried, we think we’re going to get them,” she said. “That’ll be the next step, World Cup, get our spots and then keep training for 2020.” 

As Bacon prepares for the World Cup, she will also continue to restore her confidence in the 3-meter. 

“I haven’t done as much because I got shoulder surgery not even a year ago and I was still working on coming back from that. I was doing a lot more 1-meter before I could start doing 3-meter,” Bacon said. “I haven’t done as much 3-meter dives as I have 1-meter dives, so, a little bit less confident on 3-meter in those events. But, hopefully within the next year my shoulders will be great and I’ll be able to keep doing 3-meter more.”

Bacon finished fifth in the 3-meter at the Pan-Am games, an improvement from her showing at the FINA World Championships. As her training intensifies, she’ll continue to improve on the event as she looks toward the 2020 Olympic Games. 

“I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited in my diving career looking forward as I am right now,” she said. “Really exciting stuff to come.”