By David Borne | Staff Writer
On Jan. 24 Duquesne Athletics announced that it will be adding women’s diving to the athletic program beginning in the 2017-18 school year.
After a 16-year break, diving will be making it’s return to campus. Current head swim coach Dave Sheets noted that certain things about the facility did not meet county standards, which is why diving was originally removed following the 2000-01 season.
Sheets also mentioned that the current plan is not to make any changes to the current setup at Towers Pool in order to have the divers practice on campus. Rather, the university is searching for local facilities that it will be able to use.
The addition of the diving program will greatly benefit the swim program in its battle for an Atlantic 10 Championship. Currently, Duquesne is the only school in the conference without a diving program. This means that when the conference championships roll around in March, the Dukes are unable to add points gained in diving events to their final score, and they ultimately pay the price at the end of the meet.
Coach Sheets said that the main reason for adding diving was to balance the playing field for the the Dukes who finished a program-best second at the A-10 Championships a season ago.
“The most important aspect was to give us a competitive equality within the conference,” Sheets said. “We finished second in the conference championships last year without diving. If we can continue to build our swimming program and get our divers up to the caliber of our swimmers, we have a very strong opportunity to compete for conference championships.”
Coach Sheets and the swimmers are already looking forward to the rebirth of the program.
“We’re definitely excited about it,” Sheets said. “Going to the conference championships every year and seeing where we are in points and then the diving event goes and constantly seeing ourselves drop on the scoreboard, I think now the women understand that we’re going to be just as competitive as everybody else now with the addition of diving. We’re all excited about it.”
While the swimming and diving teams will work together in an effort to win an Atlantic 10 Championship, members of the swim team will not be involved in the diving side of the competitions and vice-versa. Duquesne will immediately begin the process of looking for a coach to oversee this side of the program.
The addition of diving will ultimately bring more success to the athletic department, and Sheets sees it as a great opportunity for the university.
“Having another winning program on campus, as well as the other winning programs, it helps raise the brand of the program and the brand of the university itself.”
With the recruitment for the diving team underway, Sheets has a message to any women on the Duquesne campus that may be interested.
“Any current students with previous gymnastic or diving experience that are interested in being a part of the diving program can contact me [firstname.lastname@example.org],” Sheets said.