Record-breaking is not a new theme for Penn men’s swimming and diving this year — and senior diver Jeff Cragg is no exception.
Cragg, who on February 4th bested his father’s three-meter record that dates back to 1974, is bringing a lot of attention to diving.
“I’ve heard that diving is usually the time in the meet when people get out of the pool and take a break and I’ve heard more comments about wanting to stay and watch the diving because it has been so good,” said Rob Cragg, Penn’s diving coach and Jeff’s father.
Diving plays a pivotal role in the fate of scored meets, and the much-improved diving program over the past four years demonstrates its impact.
Whereas the trio of Cragg, senior Alex Marple and sophomore Will Hartje were instrumental in close wins against Dartmouth and UMBC, four years ago the Quakers had just one consistent diver in Aaron Levy, who often struggled to contribute significant points.
“The men’s diving team this past year has been phenomenal. The past four years they’ve done a great job,” head coach Mike Schnur said. “We would have lost a bunch more meets without them. They’ve really been instrumental in our success.”
Diving accounts for two events in a meet and in championships. In a normal meet, there are twelve individual swimming events, two individual diving events and two relays.
“[Diving] is two of 16 events in a meet and in championships it’s two events also and it can be a big help,” Schnur said.
In simplest terms, diving marks come from the judges’ scores added up and multiplied by the degree of difficulty of the dive, “so the harder the dives you perform, the higher your score is going to be,” Schnur said.
Looking to the future of diving, it is hard to imagine such success without the expertise of Cragg and Marple, who both will graduate in the spring. Hartje will have to step up next year, after being unable to finish this season due to appendicitis.
“I know [Hartje] is going to come back even stronger for next year and just really try to kill it and be the next leader of the team,” the younger Cragg said. “That will be great to see what he can do.”
Schnur agreed, adding that they are “going to have an awfully difficult time replacing Jeff and Alex next year.”
Before turning the main focus to next season, the diving team must make it through the Ivy League Championships. The main goal is to prepare to place as high as possible, both to benefit the team and fulfill personal goals.
“After all the records are broken, then as far as the actual number is concerned, I don’t really have anything in mind,” Jeff said. “I’m just going to try to dive as well as possible and kick everybody else’s butt in the Ivy League.”