Rob 2024 Team Huddle

Impressive Diving from the Nadadores at Ron O’Brien

This year’s Ron O’Brien Invitational, honoring the legacy of Nadador and Olympic Coach, Ron O’Brien, was held at the Marguerite Aquatic Complex in Mission Viejo, CA, over two consecutive weekends in mid March. The 16th and 17th hosted the Novice diving events, and the 22nd through 24th set the stage for some of the best Junior Olympic divers in the state of California, including a few out of state teams as far away as Edmonton, Canada. 350 divers descended from the springboards and platforms over these two weekends, and the Blue and Gold had quite the stellar performance. 

“Proud of each and every one of the athletes!”

John Appleman, Mission Viejo’s High Performance Director, was very pleased with what he saw, saying, “The Nadadores divers continue to impress me with their progress at every competition.” He continued, enthusiastically complimenting both parts of the program, “Our athletes participating in the Novice competition showed the sharp form and actions we’ve been focusing on. And our athletes participating in the JO competition shined with increased consistency on the pieces that make for a great whole. I am definitely proud of each and every one of the athletes!”

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Liz Sanchez, the Nadadores Director of Developmental Diving, reflected Appleman’s sentiments, observing, “Overall, I was very happy with the performances I saw from both weekends of the meet.” She was extremely impressed with her divers, especially as they’re still building up their dives and preparing for the upcoming Regional and Zone competitions, the steps to qualify for Summer Nationals later this year. “The divers looked strong considering not being in peak competition mode leading into Regionals. With many personal best records, I think the athletes felt like they had some good performances. Our Group C boys and girls did an amazing job competing in their first competition with their new age-group requirements. I was proud of all Nadadores who competed!”

“A clean sweep.”

Sanchez sure has plenty to be proud of. Her divers absolutely dominated the Novice weekend, winning the overall team award with an astounding 994 points, over 800 points above Crown Valley’s second place finish. She also had the Individual High Point Male Diver for the Novice competition in Nicholas Corona, who won both springboard events and finished second on platform, and the Individual High Point Female Diver for the JO competition in Sawyer Watts, who made a clean sweep with three golds in all of her events. 

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Grayson Campbell, one of the Nadadores’ Assistant Coaches who works closely with the Novice program, shared Sanchez’s positivity, saying, “I’m really proud of the work that went into preparing for the Ron O’Brien Invitational. The Novice Group had many outstanding performances including personal best scores and some milestones like first dive meet ever, or first time competing in a new age group.” A diver’s first competition is an unforgettable moment, and there were plenty of fun memories made throughout the weekends. Between the thunderous sounds of springboards banging on fulcrums, water splashes, and rip entries, were the unmistakable roars of applause, cheering, and laughter from all the divers and fans. 

“Tough conditions build character.”

During the JO competition, the Blue and Gold faced some serious competition with impressive divers from 14 other teams attending the Invitational; nonetheless, the Nadadores finished the competition with 15 gold, 11 silver, and 8 bronze medals in the 29 different events. Resilience and discipline were in abundance throughout the weekend, with tough conditions on a rainy and cold Saturday, but few complaints and plenty of smiles all around the pool deck. 

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Lauren Thiel-Lopez, “Coach Lo,” the Nadadores’ Elite Team Assistant Coach and the competition director, was happy with the event as a whole, saying, “This year’s annual Ron O’Brien Invitational was a huge success. We split the meet into two weekends, running all Novice events one weekend and JO events on the following, which saw record numbers in attendance running the competition this way.” Lo continued to compliment the team, in line with her fellow staff, noting, “This was a great check in for both our Novice and JO divers to see where we’re at and set some new goals for the remainder of the season. We saw some incredible diving over both weekends with Nadadores taking the team title at both meets.”

“Team Champions.”

A great check in indeed. The Blue and Gold will have a few weeks of spring training coming up, with fingers crossed for warmer, dryer weather, and then it’s on to Regional Championships at the end of April. The team will strategically split up across three different Regions to maximize their numbers and qualify as many divers as possible to the successive Zones, and finally, National Championships, where they hope to defend their title as Team Champions.