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Vivi Del Angel wins national championship, Soloveychik gets All-American honors

Gopher men’s and women’s swimming and diving each finished top-20 for the 18th straight year.
Image by Gopher Athletics (courtesy)
This was the second consecutive year Minnesota has sent three divers to the NCAA Championships.

Sophomore Vivi Del Angel won the National Championship in the platform dive at the NCAA championships on March 23, becoming the first Gophers woman to do so.

Del Angel’s first collegiate meet was at the same pool in Athens, Georgia where she won her national championship. The meet ended with her placing first in the platform dive.

Her score of 327.90 dominated the competition during the platform finals, finishing over 23 points ahead of second place.

Del Angel’s season garnered the 2024 Big Ten Diver of the Year award. Gophers diving coach Wenbo Chen won a Big Ten award alongside her, taking the conference’s 2024 Diving Coach of the Year. 

Without Chen, Del Angel may have never become a Gopher, according to Gophers head coach Kelly Kremer. Kremer called Chen the catalyst in recruiting Del Angel.

“[Chen] saw one dive on the platform and said, ‘If she gets better at that one dive, she has a chance to be a national champion,” Kremer said. 

Kremer added that neither of them thought winning a national championship would happen this quickly but Chen always envisioned great things for Del Angel.

When Kremer asked Del Angel what separated Minnesota from other schools, her response was “Wenbo Chen.”

Del Angel said her mother was influential in her decision to come to Minnesota. After Chen reached out to her and asked her to come, Del Angel’s mother pushed her, saying, “I’m feeling it.”

Del Angel knew college diving would be challenging, but she was ready. 

“It’s going to be hard, but I definitely can do this,” Del Angel said. “I have what I need: a good coach, a good physical trainer, a good team, so let’s work hard.”

A native of Veracruz, Mexico, Del Angel had to adjust to living in Minnesota. 

“This year [the snow] wasn’t that bad, but last year was bad,” Del Angel said. “My teammates told me it was going to get worse, and it got worse. You get kind of used to it, you just have to wear your jacket and a lot of layers.” 

Del Angel was not the only Gopher who performed well in the pool at the NCAA championships. Junior Bar Soloveychik took home All-American honors on day three of the men’s NCAA Championships in Indiana last weekend.

Soloveychik broke two school records in Indiana, the 500 free (4:11.33) and the 1650 free. His 1650 free time of 14:41.40 placed him seventh and earned him All-American honors. 

Soloveychik attended the NCAA Championships each of his three years as a Gopher, but this was the first season he placed high enough to earn All-American honors. 

He said he was not nervous his freshman year because he didn’t understand the magnitude of the event, adding he did not perform up to his standards because he was too nervous.

Kremer said this year was different for Soloveychik after seeing him work harder than ever before.

“I would tell Bar he’s literally great every day, no exceptions,” Kremer said. “When he gets to a high-level competition, I tell him he’s going to be great. … He does not have a miss.”

Soloveychik has been working hard for years and became serious about swimming when he was just 12 years old.

Soloveychik, who is from Israel, will try to earn a spot on the Israeli national team for the 2024 Paris Olympics. He said he missed the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by less than half a second. 

“All my life I saw really talented people swimming around me and I didn’t think I was as talented as them,” Soloveychik said. “I always had to make it up by working hard.”

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