June 15, 2012
Three members from Florida State's diving team have qualified for the Olympic Trials which will be held at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Wash. After strong showings in the postseason, Ariel Rittenhouse and Katrina Young from the women's team and Nick Klein from the men's side qualified for the June 17-24 event, which will determine spots on the 2012 United States Olympic Squad.
Young and Rittenhouse look to become the first women swimmers or divers from FSU to qualify for the Olympics since Golda Marcus did so in 2004 for her native country El Salvador. Marcus swam the 400 and 800-meter freestyle and was only the second woman from FSU to make it to the Olympics in the pool. The first woman to compete in the water from Florida State was Wendy Fuller in 1980, diving for Canada. Fuller also became the second overall athlete to compete in the pool from FSU. Florida State has not sent any swimmers or divers, regardless of gender, to the Olympics since the 2004 games in Athens, where FSU hall-of-fame member Stephen Parry won the bronze medal in the 200 fly for Great Britain.
This is the first time Young has qualified for the Olympic Trials where she will compete in the 10-meter platform.
"All of the best divers around the country will be there," Young said on the challenge ahead of her. "There will be no one missing. I'll have all the best competitors around me and it'll be just as challenging as any other meet. It will push me farther to fill out my potential because I'll be around the best divers." USA Diving extended the invitation to the Olympic Trials after Young's phenomenal postseason performances. The Shoreline, Wash. native captured All-American honors after taking fourth in platform during the NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships. Young finished with a score of 300.95 in her first trip to the championships.
Earlier in the year at the ACC Championships, Young became the first Seminole to win gold in women's platform since it was added to competition in 2008. She scored 72 points on her final dive which secured the win. The final overall score from her performance was 323.05, shattering the previous school record of 299.95, also held by Young, and earning her All-ACC honors.
"I just need to compete to my fullest potential at the Olympic Trials," said Young on trying to use past competitions to her advantage. "I want to try to remember the feeling I had when I did my best dives and go from there to see how far I can push myself."
One advantage for Young which she has yet to experience is the chance to dive in front her family and friends.
"It's near my hometown so all my family will be there," Young said. "Usually I'm at diving competitions with no family there or I'm around my family and not diving as much. Usually they don't come together since my family lives across country, but I'm going cross country to compete at the biggest meet of my life so they're simultaneously coming together which is a really big deal. It'll get my adrenalin going even more because all the people I love and care about will be there."
Similar to Young, Klein will be attending his first Olympic Trials. Klein, a junior from Chapel Hill, N.C., won All-ACC honors and received a bronze medal on the 10-meter platform with a score of 394.64. The bronze medal was the first time Klein made it to the podium. He will compete in the 10-meter synchronized dive at the Trials.
Even with Young and Klein going for the first time, this is nothing new for Rittenhouse.
Rittenhouse, a junior from Santa Cruz, Calif., competed in the Beijing Olympics four years ago, finishing fourth in the 3-meter synchronized even (with Kelci Bryant). She looks to try and make it back to the Olympics by competing in the 3-meter springboard. "I try to look at it as the same as smaller competitions," said Rittenhouse, on comparing the Olympic Trials to her previous experiences. "It's all the same competitors that were in the World Cup and the World Championships. It's kind of the same meet, but it has more amp [excitement]."
Rittenhouse is in the midst of a comeback. Soon after the trip to Beijing, she went back to the west coast to attend the University of Southern California.
Unfortunately, Rittenhouse did not have the freshman year she had hoped for and decided to try something new. FSU came up as one of the top options for a new beginning, reminding her of her upbringing in Santa Cruz. Rittenhouse sat out the 2010-2011 season before returning to competition in September.
Despite the absence from the diving boards, Rittenhouse was able to strongly compete this season, taking silver at the ACC Championships in the 1-meter with a score of 325.40 and finishing fourth in the 3-meter after scoring 352.30. Rittenhouse would also earn All-ACC honors for her performance, as well as qualifying for the NCAA Championships.
Still, Rittenhouse realizes the Olympics are a much bigger stage compared to everything she has done this past season.
"It is a lot bigger in the way the world looks at it," Rittenhouse said. "There are a lot more people there and it's a bigger deal. I've already made it, but I want to be able to go back and do better than what I've done before. It would be amazing if I could make it again."
For all three athletes, the Olympic Trials are simply one major step before they can book a flight to London for the 2012 games.