Pitt swim and dive concludes season at NCAA Championships in Atlanta

By Richie Smiechowski, Senior Staff Writer

Three divers and one swimmer from Pitt went to the NCAA championships over the past two weeks in Atlanta, but none managed to make it past the preliminary stages of the competition.

In a historic year for the Panthers, divers Amy Read, Dylan Reed and Cameron Cash all qualified for the NCAA Championships after their respective NCAA Zone A Championship performances in Annapolis, Maryland, earlier this month. Senior swimmer Cooper van der Laan was the fourth Panther from the program and only swimmer to qualify for the NCAA Championships, managing to do so in the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke events.

Read, already one of Pitt’s most decorated divers, became the only diver in program history to qualify for the NCAA championships four times. After finishing third in the women’s platform in Annapolis, the senior ensured that she would compete in all three events — 1-meter, 3-meter and platform — at the women’s national championships in Atlanta.

Read struggled in all three events compared to her scores from earlier in the season. Her season ended in the preliminary round for each event, finishing at No. 46 out of 47 in the 1-meter, No. 50 out of 51 in the 3-meter and No. 45 out of 46 in platform.

Finishing with a combined score of 675.45, Cash became the only first-year in program history to qualify for all three diving events at the NCAA Championships. Reed, competing alongside him, also qualified for all three events. The junior only competed in the 1-meter event in last year’s championships. Combined, the two divers qualified for six events, which was another school record for men’s diving.

Both Reed and Cash found their strongest success on platform from March 24-26 at the NCAA Championships, with Cash’s 300.95 score putting him in No. 26 overall and Reed’s 297.45 allowing him to finish a slightly lower No. 28. 1-meter, and 3-meter both proved to be more of a struggle for the two divers, with Reed finishing at No. 37 and Cash at No. 43 in 1-meter. Cash put in his second strongest performance in the 3-meter, placing at No. 30 with Reed behind him at No. 40.

Van der Laan earned his second consecutive bronze in the 100-meter breast at the 2022 ACC Championships with a score of 51.64. His time of 51.42 earlier in the season at the Ohio State Invitational was good enough for an NCAA A Cut distinction as No. 11 in the nation. It also set a program record in the process. His 200-meter breast time of 1:53.23 ranked No. 30 nationally and put him in the NCAA B Cut for the event.

Despite finishing No. 8 in the 100-meter breast at last year’s NCAA championships, Van der Laan regressed in the event this year, finishing at No. 23 overall with a 52.14 second run. Normally his weaker event, Van der Laan set a season-best mark of 1:53.04 in the 200-meter breast, putting him at No. 20 overall for the category.

Just two days after the men’s NCAA championships concluded, athletic director Heather Lyke announced John Hargis wouldn’t return to his position as head coach of the men’s and women’s swimming program. The former Olympic gold-medalist spent six years with the program, and Lyke announced the program is actively searching for another head coach.