Column: Women’s diving team prepares for successful season

by David Nelson

Some swimmers and coaches didn’t have anything specific to say when it came to what the women’s diving team will look like this season.

The women’s diving team opened its year on Saturday afternoon after graduating two of the most decorated divers in Minnesota history last season.

Wondering how the season will shape up for the divers, who lost former Big Ten Diver of the Year Maggie Keefer and Big Ten platform diving champion Sarah McCrady seems natural.

But after the Gophers’ dominating performance against Arizona State, it looks like concerns should be eased and head diving coach Wenbo Chen hasn’t lost his touch.

“There’s not a better diving coach out there than Wenbo Chen,” head coach Kelly Kremer said. “He’s put together an incredible group.”

The women’s team went 1-2-3 in the 3-meter diving standings Saturday, with newcomer Yu Zhou claiming the top spot, sophomore Lexi Tenenbaum placing second and senior Katy Etterman placing third.

Tenenbaum and Zhou also took second and third on the 1-meter springboard.

“Our divers were outstanding on Saturday,” Kremer said. “They’ll continue to get better and be better as the year goes on.”

When asked before the meet how the diving team would look, senior associate head coach Terry Ganley said it would be experienced, adding that one of the best coaches in the world would be training them.

“I’m confident that we will be right back on top with our divers,” Ganley said last Wednesday.

In April 2009, when Chen took the position of the head coach, the divers knew they were getting someone who could mold talent.

“We are so fortunate to hire someone of Wenbo’s caliber,” former athletics director Joel Maturi said in a release when Chen was hired. “… He has earned an outstanding reputation internationally, in the United States and Big Ten and he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Minnesota.”

While the divers on the women’s side certainly don’t lack ability, only junior Jessica Ramberg has NCAA championship experience.

But with Keefer and McCrady gone, Etterman, Zhou and Tenenbaum could step up to fill the void left by their former teammates under Chen’s tutelage.

The women’s swimming and diving team will be vying for a fourth consecutive conference championship this season.

If the Gophers accomplish such a feat, the women’s diving team — and the man who leads them — will be a big reason for it.