COLLEGE STATION, Texas Ė Duke freshman Abby Johnston took fifth on the three-meter springboard at the 2009 NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships with a score of 361.80 in tonight’s finals at Texas A&M’s Student Rec Center Natatorium.
The showing earned Johnston All-America status.
“It was exciting being here and taking in the great atmosphere,” said Johnston. “There were lots of people in the stands, people cheering you on. I’ve never experienced anything like it, and it helped me because I didn’t have any expectations going in.”
“It was great that I can be in that arena as a freshman and against the top girls, knowing I can only go up from here.”
Indiana senior Christina Loukas won the national title with a score of 437.75. Loukas was a ninth-place finisher on the three-meter board at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing after winning the U.S. Olympic trials.
She was followed by Houston’s Anastasia Podzniakova (386.10), Indiana’s Brittney Feldman (366.90), Texas’ Jessica Livingston (366.60), and Johnston. Texas’ Shelby Cunningham, Purdue’s Ashley Karnes, and Missouri’s Kendra Melnychuk rounded out the eight spots in the finals.
The eight performers advanced to tonight’s finals, while the top 16 finishers in prelims scored and made All-America. Johnston was in seventh after prelims and was able to move up two spots, with a score of 325.85 in the afternoon session.
Johnston became Duke’s first diver to advance to the NCAA Championships, after winning the three-meter at last weekend’s Zone B Championships with a combined score of 659.85. In addition to the zone championship, Johnston collected the ACC title in the event earlier this season.
“Abby dove great all day Ė each of her dives was better than the one before,” said Duke diving coach Drew Johansen, who also coached Johnston in club competition during high school. “She was actually in the hunt there in the top three spots for a while and got a taste of what it was like to be in that kind of fight in NCAA competition. She responded great.”
The freshman participated in the one-meter yesterday, finishing 37th overall in prelims with a six-dive score of 202.60.
Tomorrow marks the last day of the 2008 NCAA Championships, where sophomore Ashley Twichell will represent the Blue Devils in the 1650 freestyle.
Follow all the action on the web at the championships page, which includes up-to-the-minute results and additional coverage.