Courtesy of the OSU Athletic Department
Ohio State senior diver Bianca Alvarez has her sights set on an NCAA title after winning two Big Ten titles this season. Alvarez and her teammates will be competing at an NCAA Zone Diving meet Thursday and Friday to qualify to compete in the women’s NCAA Championship.
As her last year of eligibility comes to an end, Alvarez said she is happy to have won Big Ten titles along with placing second and third twice in previous years.
“It feels great, obviously, especially being my last year in collegiate diving,” said Alvarez. “(It) really is a nice way to finish up my last Big Ten championship. I mean it’s been a goal of mine since the beginning. I know I’ve always been capable of it, but it was really nice to finally come to the meet and put my performance.”
Alvarez won titles in the 1- and 3-meter diving events with 360.65 and 410.65, respectively. Fellow diver sophomore Cheyenne Cousineau won a Big Ten title competing in the 10-meter platform with 326.10. Senior Kristen Asman has also been a strong contender in the past. Asman placed fifth and ninth in the 3- and 1-meter diving competitions, respectively, and ninth in the 10-meter platform competition.
Alvarez wasn’t always a diver; she started out as a gymnast. And she said her carefree, “fearless” nature is part of what has helped her excel at diving.
“I was willing to do anything my coach said despite worrying about hitting the board or doing belly flops,” Alvarez said. “So I guess my progression was pretty rapid. I was able to start competing at the national level after three years of diving.”
After coming to OSU, Alvarez worked with diving coach Vince Panzano, who she credits for helping her develop a more positive outlook.
“I had a really bad attitude in the sense that I was very unwilling to accept adversity,” Alvarez said. “He’s just taught me how to be a student of the sport.”
Cousineau said Alvarez plays a big role in her life, as a friend and teammate.
“Having Bianca as a teammate is amazing,” Cousineau said. “Just to be able to see her work ethic, to be able to train together and support each other through it is great.”
Cousineau said she hopes all of her teammates finish the season strong.
“I’d like to see all of us make it to NCAAs,” Cousineau said. “We’re all capable of making it to NCAAs this year. “
Though swimming and diving are two different sports, they operate under the same program and each contributes to the success of the other at meets.
“It’s swimming and diving. You’ve got two different disciplines that both score points for the same outcome,” said Bill Dorenkott, women’s swimming coach.
Dorenkott said he often sees the diving team practicing during the swimming team’s practice time.
“We may have one of the top three diving traditions in the world,” Dorenkott said. “And Bianca, for her five years at Ohio State, has been a big part of leading that program.”
Dorenkott said Alvarez has made an impact on the program.
“The most telling thing when a person is part of a team or a program or an organization is did they leave things better than they found them and will they be missed,” Dorenkott said. “I can’t speak to if she left things better than she found them because I don’t coach her on a daily basis, Vince Panzano does, but I can guarantee she’ll be missed.”
After NCAAs, Alvarez has plans to qualify for a spot on the U.S. Olympic Diving Team and later pursue a master’s degree in medical sciences. Eventually, she hopes to attend the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami located in her hometown, Miami, Fla.
“My ideal perfect plan would be to qualify for the Olympic games … and when I return, start graduate school,” Alvarez said. “That’s like my dream.”
Dorenkott said the Buckeyes’ efforts will pay off.
“We’re going to be outstanding next week at Auburn,” Dorenkott said.
The 2012 NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming and Diving Championship will be held March 15–17 in Auburn, Ala.