Barnard close to records

The junior hopes to break the team’s all-time 3-meter record this season.

Thomas Jaakola

Senior diver Matt Barnard is off to a great start this season, and his favorite event, platform diving, hasn’t even started yet.
 
The Gophers started prepping last week for their first platform event at Georgia Tech in three weeks.
 
“That’s the first time we’ll be doing platform this early in the season, so that will be a bit different,” Barnard said.
 
Barnard was voted the team’s most valuable performer during his sophomore year when he placed third in platform diving at the 2015 NCAA Championships, but he has improved his overall diving this year with strong performances in his other two events.
 
Barnard dove for a score of 357.83 in the 1-meter event when the team visited Wisconsin two weeks ago, just .07 points off his personal best set in 2014.
 
Barnard set a personal best in the 3-meter event when the team hosted the University of Florida three weeks ago with 416.10 points. The score was just off the Minnesota record of 423.90 currently held by Mikey Ross, a record that Barnard mentioned he wants to break this year. 
 
Minnesota head diving coach Wenbo Chen said Barnard has a chance at the conference record, too.
 
“The Big Ten record is tough, but it doesn’t mean we can’t break it,” Chen said. “Normally, I tell my divers not to think about the score: You need to focus on what you need to do, and the outcome should come with it.”
 
Barnard said he still likes platform diving the most, despite his success in the 3-meter and 1-meter events.
 
He said the event, which starts on a diving board 10 meters above the surface, is thrilling, almost like an extreme sport in comparison to the other diving events.
 
“There are fewer people who do it,” Barnard said. “Few people want to do it because it’s scarier and, in my opinion, it’s harder. But, of course, it gives opportunities for people who do it.”
 
Barnard, who is originally from Australia, chose to come to Minnesota after watching the Gophers have two honorable mention All-American divers the year before he arrived
under Chen. 
 
Now Barnard, along with last year’s women’s NCAA Diver of the year Yu Zhou, is leading Minnesota’s diving team.
 
“We’re blessed to have such an incredibly strong group of divers led by one of the best coaches in the world,” head swimming and diving coach Kelly Kremer said. “If you’re
going to be a championship team, you have to have a strong diving program.”
 
Barnard said he wants to find a lot more confidence in his diving before the Big Ten Championships in February. 
 
Chen said he thinks Barnard will have to get stronger for more difficult dives.
 
“He’s only gotten better, literally every day since he’s been here. He’s never been more focused. He’s in the best shape I would say that I’ve ever seen him in,” Kremer said.
 
“It’s from preparation. He’s dialed in, and he’s preparing as well as we could expect him to.”