AUSTIN, Texas – When he had to get it done, Duke senior Nick McCrory got it done.
Overshadowed for the first two days of the 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships, Duke’s Nick McCrory knocked out crucial dive after crucial dive in Saturday’s platform competition.
The grit and experience paid off with a 454.85-point victory, making McCrory the first diver in NCAA history to win four consecutive platform events.
“It was definitely an emotional event because this is the last time I’ll do the NCAA,” McCrory said. “I just wanted to dive well for the university because they’ve been such a good support for me.”Arizona sophomore Rafael Quintero finished second with 452.40 points. Hawaii sophomore Armund Gismervik finished third with 446.10.
University of Texas freshman Michael Hixon had set the tone with back-to-back victories in the 1-meter competition on Thursday, and the 3-meter event on Friday. McCrory had finished third in 1-meter then had to remove himself from the 3-meter final due to an injury he didn’t disclose.
“I had a little injury in prelims in three-meter and I couldn’t continue to dive,” McCrory said of his Friday aggravation.
“A disappointment, but I was able to come back [Saturday].”
Platform diving, with its heights and velocity, could have proved a tougher challenge with any injury. But, McCrory did know what he had to do.
“It does take a toll on your body,” he said, smiling.
Pushed by Quintero and Gismervik – and Hixon, diving in his home well – McCrory continued to do math in his head even as he executed. Nearly everyone in the final eight-man field nailed crucial turns off the platform, and, as competition wound down, McCrory continued to keep score.
Off to a strong start with his first two attempts, he’d faltered a bit on dives No. 3 and 4. A better result on dive No. 5 put him within striking distance.
In the sixth and final round of dives, Quintero hit a three-and-a-half somersault tuck to vault atop the standings.
Then McCrory, in fourth place at that point, walked to the platform edge.
“I saw the opportunity to take the title at the end and know what I needed to do to pull it off,” he said.
That turned out to be a backward two-and-a-half somersault with two and a half twists. The 94.50 total points he scored on it gave him the title and the NCAA-record fourth consecutive platform title.
“I knew I needed a good dive,” McCrory said. “Rafael was pushing me. It was a great field today. All the guys were strong.”
Hixon, a freshman sensation, finished seventh. Stanford’s Kristian Ipsen, the 2013 NCAA champion in the 1-meter and 3-meter events, finished sixth. Missouri’s David Bonuchi was fourth. Virginia Tech’s Ryan Hawkins was fifth, with his teammate TJ Shinholser finishing eighth.
A senior from Chapel Hill, N.C., McCrory – 2012 Olympic bronze medalist in synchronized 10-meter platform diving in – isn’t sure what’s next.
But he does know what he had to do Saturday night.
“That last dive is one of my favorites,” he said. “I’ve been doing it for six years now and I’m really comfortable with it. But going into it, I was up there doing the math in my head of what I needed to score to win. To be honest, I didn't think I got it when I hit the water. I was surprised by the scoreboard. I saw my dive and I guess it was better than I thought.”