So what is the word for 2012? Actually it is two words … wide open. Unlike last year, there are no clear cut favorites and there are titles up for the taking.
With this being the Olympic year, there are several contenders who have opted to forego their year of collegiate diving in order to concentrate on making the Olympic team. Among those are NCAA champions from the past, including Kelci Bryant of Minnesota and Abby Johnston of Duke. Add to that the graduation of 2011 platform champion Brittany Viola and the predicting part of this year's championships gets a little foggy.
Only one former champion returns, and that is 2010 platform Chen Ni of IUPUI. Now a U.S. citizen, she returns to the championships after failing to make it out of zones last year and is a real threat to capture a second NCAA title.
Who To Watch - 1-Meter Springboard
This event promises to be a dog fight. As is always the case with 1-meter, no one diver has a clear advantage in dive difficulty and so the contest will come down to who blinks and who doesn't.
Out of the Southeastern Conference; look for Vennie Dantin of Auburn, Courtney Forcucci of South Carolina and Tori Lamp of Tennessee to be in the mix.
From the west the clear contender will be Tori Ishimatsu and from the Texas will come Texas A&M divers Jaele Patrick and Janie Potvin.
Two more standouts will be Bianca Alvarez of Ohio State and Veronica Rydze of Iowa. Rydze is a former U.S. 1-meter champion and if she is on in finals could be tough to beat.
Only two finalists from a year ago return (Dantin and Alvarez), and six out of the top sixteen, so as I said, it is a wide open field.
In a contest that will be as tight as this one, look for any advantage however slight. And you might just have to give that advantage to Vennie Dantin from Auburn. Why? Because the meet is at her home pool, she will get to sleep in her own bed and will be a bit more comfortable in her surroundings that the rest of the competitors. Like I said, any advantage however slight, can make the difference!