NCAAs cap career for senior diver
At the beginning of the Rutgers swimming and diving team's season, senior captain Jen Betz just wanted to have a good year and to do well at the Big East Championships.
There was no talk of the NCAA Championships — it was not even a thought in the back of her mind. But sometimes a good year can turn into a dream season for a diver.
"Jen's success this year was a huge step for the program," said head coach Phil Spiniello. "It meant a lot to me and all of our swimmers, divers and coaches."
Any spring break plans that Betz had were cancelled as she traveled to Austin, Texas, for her events last Thursday and Friday. Betz did not have experience at such an elite level, even as the swimming and diving team's lone senior.
"All of the best swimmers and divers in the country are there, so it was by far the most competitive meet I've ever been to," Betz said. "It's a huge meet, but a very high energy and exciting meet to experience.
Betz placed 31st in the three meter with a score of 266.25 and 34th in the one meter with 236.30. The scores may not be what she hoped for, but no diver ending her career with an NCAA Championship appearance is going to complain.
"It has been such a long season and one that I never imagined would have ended up the way it did," Betz said. "I think it will take me a while to realize that it's all over, but I couldn't have hoped for a better way to end my career."
The pressure of the NCAA Championships was daunting even for a veteran captain and leader like Betz, but it was something she had worked toward all her life.
With emotions running high, Betz did her best to maintain the signature composure that put her in the Championships in the first place.
"I was definitely a little nervous," Betz said. "There is no way to not be nervous in a meet like this. But I did my best to not let it overwhelm me and stay focused on just doing my dives. It was an honor for me to be there and represent our team, so I just tried to take in everything and enjoy being there."
Betz dominated on the boards throughout the season, especially in the three-meter dive, and made it to the Big East Championships with relative ease. She took bronze in the three meter with a score of 316.40 and qualified for the NCAA Zone A Diving Championships in Annapolis, Md.
Betz faced off against some of the toughest competition in the region at the Zone Championships, but was still improved upon her scores.
She previously qualified for the zone meet during her sophomore year in the one-meter dive and placed 17th. This time, Betz took second place in the three-meter with a total score of 565.25 and third in the one meter with 495.35 — a combined score of 12 dives.
"I had a really consistent meet," Betz said. "All 12 dives were pretty consistent. Some were just OK, but some of them I hit really well. To come back and get second this year was amazing. I was shocked but so excited."
Betz's strong scores at the Zone Championships were enough for her to earn a bid to the NCAA Championships in Austin.
"After the last diver went on three meter, I looked at the results and realized I had made it to NCAAs," Betz said. "I didn't know what to think — it was hard to believe. But I just felt so excited."