Tennessee senior diver Colin Zeng had been there before.
He’d been there twice, actually. Stepping up to the 1-meter springboard final as the top seed at the NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships on Thursday, Zeng delivered the dive he needed to earn the third national title of his career.
Zeng won the platform title in 2016 and 2018. He is the fourth Vol to win the 1-meter event, with Liam Stone’s 2016 title being the last.
“He (Zeng) continued from where he was earlier today,” diving coach Dave Parrington said. “Just a very calm and competitive mindset. It isn’t always easy to be the leader coming out of prelims and diving last, seeing what everyone else is doing. He handled that well and got off to a great first dive.
“His second dive was crucial, it really set up the list to where everyone was chasing him. I could not be prouder of his effort and the way he competed, but now we have to bounce back and go again tomorrow.
Zeng’s performance garnered First Team All-American honors.
Tennessee’s 400 medley relay swimming group added to Zeng’s success with a fifth-place finish in the B final. Joey Reilman, Matthew Dunphy, Braga Verhage and Kyle DeCoursey combined for a 3:05.86 finish, good for 13th overall.
All four swimmers earned All-American Honorable Mention awards.
“It was a fantastic relay,” associate head coach Lance Asti said. “We had a little hiccup at the beginning of the session but these guys were unbelievable in their fight and their battle…Anytime in a final we can move up a few places, that’s valuable points and shows our competitive spirit.”
Thursday’s relay team marked the second-fastest 400 medley relay in school history.
Freshman diver Matthew Wade added to Tennessee’s success on the springboards, despite missing the A final in the prelims.
After finishing 12th in prelims, Wade finished seventh in the B final and 15th overall with a score of 304.85. His finish earned him an All-American Honorable Mention.
“In Matthew’s case, a freshman coming in a tough field and environment, he stood up steady as a rock all afternoon,” Parrington said. “He was very precision oriented and he got that done. I’m very proud of him and he put points on the board for his team and he’s Honorable Mention All-American and not a lot of freshman can say that.”
The NCAA Championships continue on Friday with the 400 individual medley, 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke, 200 medley relay and 3-meter springboard. Finals of the events are at 7:00 p.m. ET.