May 7, 2013
As we continue to gear up for the World Championship Trials on May 15-20, our next highlighted diver is senior Ariel Rittenhouse.
Coming from a family of swimming and diving athletes, her mother, Sharon, was a 1964 Olympic silver medalist in the 400m IM and uncle, Michael Finneran, was an Olympic diver in 1972. In other words Ariel Rittenhouse was born to dive.
During her youth on the Trojan Dive Club team under Coach Hongping Li, Rittenhouse competed in many international competitions from such a young age.
At the age of 16, she dove in major international meets, such as the 2007 Pan American Games where she earned second place in the 3-meter synchronized event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She also took home the gold medal at the 2007 Kaiser Permanente National Championships. During the 2007 World Championships, she placed 10th on 3-meter synchronized event after taking silver during the World Cup in 2006.
Using that fuel, Rittenhouse continued training with her partner Kelci Bryant (University of Minnesota) for the Olympic Trials, however they did not earn their automatic bid to the Games. It was later at a selection camp that the teenage duo got the nod to dive in the 2008 Olympic Games.
On the first day of the Games, Rittenhouse and Bryant competed in the springboard 3-meter synchronized event with Bryant at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where they finished in fourth. The same year, she placed third in the 3-meter synchro in three different international competitions including the U.S. Diving Spring Nationals, the FINA Diving World Cup and FINA Diving World Series events which took place in Mexico and London.
After Beijing, in 2009, she represented the U.S. again at the 2009 FINA World Championships in Rome with Bryant and finished fifth overall in the synchronized 3-meter event. Her fifth-place showing marked the first American top-5 finish at the world championships since 1994.
Prior to her arrival at FSU in the fall of 2011, Rittenhouse enrolled at the University of Southern California. She continued her success in the PAC-10 (now Pac-12) Championships winning silver in the 1-meter with a time of 326.25 and placing third on the 3-meter (366.60) and ninth on the platform (226.85) advancing her to the NCAA Championships. She qualified for the NCAAs with a second place on 1-meter at the Zone E Championships. Rittenhouse was a point-scorer at the 2010 NCAA Championships placing 12th on the 3-meter.
After the 2010 season, she packed for Veracruz, Mexico where she partnered up with then USC teammate Victoria Ishimatsu for the FINA/Li-Ning Diving World Series meet earning the bronze medal in women's synchronized 3-meter for in the final stage of the meet.
But after her freshman year, Rittenhouse didn't feel like USC was the right fit for her as she decided to find a new place to call home. She sat out the 2010-11 season, having that time to develop her performance, she had a dynamic comeback for the 2011-12 season as a Seminole claiming the silver medal in the 1-meter with a score of 325.40 and took fourth place in the 3-meter (352.30) at the ACC Championships earning All-ACC honors for her performance. She moved on and qualified for the NCAA Championships on the springboard events at the Zone B qualifier. After the season was over, Ariel focused on the Olympic Trials, however her efforts fell short. However, Rittenhouse bounced back during at the Summer Nationals, making her first event finals since 2009.
After the summer, she continued her hard work preparing for the 2012-13 season. She capped of the season with a new school record of 369.55 and earned her a gold medal on the 3-meter at the ACC Championships. Rittenhouse was also awarded the ACC Diver of the week twice throughout her junior year - one of which following the upset over Florida. At the end of the season, Rittenhouse was awarded the Most Valuable Diver for her solid performances all season.
Rittenhouse will not compete in the World Championship Trials; however she will return to Tallahassee for her senior season. She is looking to finish her collegiate career on a high note before shifting her focus to Rio in 2016.