Coach Ames and Stowers Talk about Upcoming NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships

March 14, 2007

Georgia Tech’s Evan Stowers

About making 2nd NCAA Championship meet
This year was a lot more important, because every year I want to progress and do better than the year before. So, just by making the meet I have already set myself up to finish higher than I did on springboard, and maybe All-American again this year on platform.

What can you take away from last years meet that you can use to your advantage this year?
Definitely the experience. I have noticed in the meets this year that I have not been as nervous. I have been more confident and more relaxed, and going into the meet this year I am much more comfortable with myself and with my dives. I have already been in this meet before, so the nerves are gone. So, probably the biggest thing is the experience.

Last year you qualified on the platform, this year you qualified on the three-meter board. Talk about that …
Yeah, it is something different. Specifically speaking with the zone meet, it was easier for me knowing the second day that I made it to relax and take it easy on tower (platform). That definitely builds my confidence level because last year I think I finished 25th on both the springboards and I was really jittery and nervous (at the NCAA Championships). It showed in my diving, but I think this year, and especially with having such a good springboard zone meet on one- and three-meter, that I will be able to finish a lot higher than I did last year.

John (Ames) said that your prelims on three-meter were the best you have ever had. What do you think of that?
Even in finals, both of those lists were probably the two best lists I have ever done in my life, and even prelims on three-meter were the best one-meter lists I have ever done. The week before, practices were not going to well, and even in warmups, but I just stayed focused and pulled it off.

Our zone is probably the toughest zone in the country. Is that something you take with you the NCAAs?
Yeah, really all you want to do as a zone is to bring more spots back because the higher we finish the more places we will bring back to our zone for NCAA Championships. So, the more people we get to go and the higher we finish, that is going to bring more spots back for the zone next year and not make it as hard to qualify as it was this year. This year, we went down from 11 spots to eight spots. It was tough, and it took me having such a good, solid lists of dives and my best lists ever to even make this meet. So our zone is definitely the hardest in the country in my opinion.

Last year you were here in the GT Aquatic Center and you didn’t get to travel. This year you are going to Minneapolis, Minn. Is that something you look forward to more than staying home?
It is more of a bigger meet type atmosphere. Not that diving here wasn’t, but I am so used to it and was very comfortable; it didn’t really feel like NCAA Championships. I knew it was a huge meet, it just didn’t feel the same as it would if I was going somewhere else, like Minnesota. Changing the location and getting to travel gives you the feel of a bigger atmosphere for the whole meet.

Is the goal to be top 16?
Yeah, top 16 is definitely a goal as a whole, for all of them. Really I would like to be an All-American and get a top 8. Realistically, I think top 16 is definitely something I can achieve on all of them.

Head Diving Coach John Ames

The NCAA Zone B Championships is probably one of the best, if not the best, zone in the country. Can Evan take that with him as he goes the NCAAs?
Yeah, I think so. The thing is, with Evan, I don’t think that the competition really scares him. I think that what we saw this week and maybe it is just he dove against some of the best divers in zones at a Conference meet. So maybe he went into it thinking he already dove against the best there. But, it just seems to me that when he was warming up and he was diving at the zone meet, the competition doesn’t really bug him. He knows that when he dives the best he can, it really doesn’t matter who the competition is. He might not have the dives to win the NCAAs, but he certainly can be anywhere in the top eight on all events, and I think he knows that if he dives the best he can, he is going to be in there. Who knows where he will finish if he does his best and a few people are off. I don’t see any kind of nervousness in him when he is competing against the best because I think he is out here to do his best.

Did he dive his best in prelims at Zones?
I think he knows now the potential he has in a meet. I have seen him do dives like he did in the meet last week in practice before, but never in a meet. The thing is, at the zone meet, and the same thing with the NCAA meet, that first list of dives for most people is the really important one because it sets you up to go into a final. Even though they zero out all the scores going into the finals at NCAAs, and they didn’t at zones. You can put yourself in a pretty deep hole at zones and not be able to recover, and the fact Evan was able to come out and do the best list in the prelims really tells me that when the pressure is on, he can be there. So, that is really the feeling that I am getting this meet is that the pressure is not going to get to him as it might other people. I really think that we can see the same type of thing going into NCAAs, that the pressure didn’t really seem to bug him too much.

Asking about goals for Evan, top 16 in all events and repeating All-American performance. Realistic?
I do think that he can be top eight in all three events. I also think that he can be top 16 in all three. I would say that that is a very reasonable expectation for him to be in the top 16, if we do see what we saw in prelims at zones and maybe top eight as well. That would be pretty huge to finish top eight in all three. That would be above and beyond what I was expecting out of him.

He came into this year, actually debating red-shirting this year and it wasn’t until winter break that he said, hey look, I think I am diving the best I can and the best I ever have, so he really wanted to give it a shot. With only eight spots coming out of our zones this year, that was a tough call to make. We are hoping that we can bring more spots back next year. So, I would say that top 16 is definitely a reasonable expectation for all three. I would love to see him get top eight in one, if not all three.

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