Dana Liva had one of the most impressive performances by a Cyclone diver this season at Kansas, where she put up a personal-best score of 304.35 on the three-meter, earning third place.
“Breaking 300 is pretty hard to do in any diving event so I was really happy that I accomplished that this season,” Liva said.
Liva, a redshirt junior from Arlington Heights, Illinois, is now competing alongside her teammate, Sydney Ronald, at the NCAA Zone Diving Championships which began Monday.
Liva is competing in all three disciplines (one-meter, three-meter and platform), while Ronald is competing in two, the one and three-meter.
Liva’s strength is the platform, as she earned All Big-12 Second Team honors for claiming sixth place at the Big 12 Championships this year with a score of 211.95.
“One thing that stands out about Dana is her excelling on the 10-meter platform, especially considering that we don’t have one,” said diving coach Jeff Warrick.
Beyer Hall, the home of the Cyclone swimming and diving team, only has a five-meter board.
Therefore, Liva is unable to get a regulation platform diving experience during practice at Iowa State.
“I don’t think people really truly realize that height difference from five to 10 meters until they would actually have to walk up there and jump off themselves,” Warrick said. “I’m not saying she’s the only person like herself, but I mean it’s a rare thing for people to rarely train but still compete on a national level.”
As Warrick said, Liva has been magnificent on the platform during her career at Iowa State.
In fact, her finish at the Big 12 Championships this year was lower than her third-place finish last year. Her score of 283.40 at that meet broke the Iowa State school record for the event.
“Even though she didn’t have as good of a Big 12s as last year, I think she is diving better overall this year,” Warrick said.
With her performance this year added on to last year’s, Liva became the sixth Cyclone with multiple All-Big 12 honors on the platform.
Without Liva, Ronald doesn’t believe that she could have even competed on the platform.
“Originally, I used to hate platform diving and I would fake it,” Ronald said. “Once she [Dana] came on though, I learned to love it because she was up there with me and pushing me to try new things.”
Liva, who transferred to Iowa State after her sophomore season at Wisconsin, said Iowa State was a much better fit for her, particularly with the coaching staff and the athlete environment.
She did not disappoint in her first year in Ames, as she went on to win the team honors of Most Valuable Diver and Newcomer of the Year.
In her second year, she has not slowed down one bit as she has taken a first-place finish in an event in five different meets.
Liva has displayed her versatility in all diving events and has become more well-rounded diver as the season has progressed.
“Making zone cut on all three boards is something that I planned on doing, and I was glad that I reached that goal,” Liva said.
In addition to holding the school record in the platform diving event, Liva ranks seventh in the one-meter and eighth in the three-meter on Iowa State’s all-time performers list.
Liva did compete on all three disciplines last year at the Zones. However, she finished toward the middle of the pack in the one (28th) and three-meter events (39th).
This year, she would like to at least hit the zone cut scores as a minimum in all three events.
The zone cut scores, per the NCAA, are 265 for the one-meter, 280 for the three-meter and 225 for the platform.
“I just want to meet of my expectations of what I know I can do,” Liva said.
The Zones have a preliminary round and a final round, similar to the Big 12 Championships, except on a larger scale.
There are eighteen divers who reach the finals from the preliminary rounds. The number of divers in an event is based on how many hit the zone-qualifying mark during the regular season.
The top nine divers in each event from the total score of finals and preliminaries qualify to the NCAA Championships.
One major difference from a normal meet though is the scores during preliminary rounds will be added as a sum of points.
“The Zones can be very hard and competitive because the judging is a lot different,” Liva said. “They are really hard on you compared to normal meets.”
The event that Liva performed the best in last year was, as expected, the platform.
She reached the finals and ultimately finished 17th.
Heading into the Zones this year, Liva was looking to improve on not only her platform finish, but her finishes in all three diving events.
“If she does focus on those things (placing and scores), that will tighten her up and actually prevent her from relaxing and having fun like she really should,” Warrick said.
Ronald, who has competed alongside Liva for the last two seasons, said that for Liva, it really isn’t an issue.
“[Liva] is very sure of herself,” Ronald said. “She is confident in all of her diving but also doesn’t take life too seriously which is a good attitude to have sometimes especially in diving because things can get quite stressful.”
Ultimately though, she just wants to execute her dives and see where that puts her.
“Dana has a passion for diving and no matter what happens, she is fun to work with as a coach,” Warrick said.