Pollard regaining form midseason

Senior diver Manny Pollard finished in second place at Wisconsin on the 3-meter board, scoring 388.58 points.

Thomas Jaakola

Gophers senior Manny Pollard has had flashes of his past form in some of his last few meets.

The New York native has consistently been one of the Gophers top three divers in both the 1-meter and 3-meter events this year. Pollard said he doesn’t feel as if he’s had any standout performances so far this year though.

“I don’t think my competitions have shown what I can actually do,” Pollard said.

Before his senior season, Pollard gradually improved throughout his time at Minnesota. He missed out on qualifying for the NCAA Championships his sophomore year, but he made it last year after qualifying at the Zone D Championships. Pollard finished in fifth place in the 1-meter event, sixth place on the 3-meter board and fifth place on the platform at the meet.

He went on to earn the first All-American honorable mention honor of his career in the 1-meter dive by finishing 13th at the 2015 NCAA Championships. Pollard also placed 20th on the platform dive.

He hasn’t quite reached that level this year though.

Pollard began the year with a fourth place finish in the one-meter event with 291.75 points at Florida State on Oct. 3, which was well off his career best score of 407.65 points. Later in the month, he scored 341.85 points while placing second at Iowa on Oct. 30.

Pollard also started out slow in the 3-meter event, scoring 324.60 points and placing sixth at Florida State. He improved at Wisconsin on Oct. 16 by placing second with 388.58 points, closer to his career best 411.55 points.

Pollard said despite his slow start, he thinks he’s still on track to accomplish his goals for the year, which include his ultimate goal of placing in the top eight at the Olympic Trials in 2016.

“I’ve mostly been focusing on my degree of difficulty and my strength so I can complete more somersaults and do harder dives so I can keep up with other competitors,” Pollard said.

The senior still has a lot of time to improve as well, with over fourth months before the 2016 NCAA qualifying meet and seven before the Olympic trials.

“Every day he is looking stronger and more confident on the boards,” junior diver Matt Barnard said. “His impact on the diving team is huge both in and out of the pool. He is constantly scoring high points for the team in competition and being a positive role model for the underclassmen.”

Pollard will get another shot to improve his form at the Georgia Tech Invite this upcoming weekend, a diving-only meet. He will need to be at his best for the Gophers strong diving team to perform well.

“Whether in training or in competition, he will help the team a lot because everybody looks to him,” diving coach Wenbo Chen said. “He loves diving and definitely gives leadership for the team.”