Swimming & diving: Peterson competes at Zone Championship

By: Anthony Gulizia, News Correspondent

While many students spent Spring Break on tropical vacations, relaxing at home and hanging with friends, sophomore diver Rachael Peterson spent hers in Barletta Natatorium, training for the NCAA Zone Championships, which took place Saturday at Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J.

Peterson qualified for Zones Jan. 23 after winning the 1-meter dive against Vermont. Diving coach Casey Gon said Peterson’s commitment is one of her many outstanding qualities.

“Once Rachael qualified for Zones, she canceled all her plans for Spring Break, and her commitment really showed,” Gon said. “Practicing by yourself is a tremendous challenge, especially when all your friends are going away, telling you how much fun they’re having.”

At the Zones, Peterson finished 32nd in the 1-meter dive, and 35th in the 3-meter dive. For her, simply qualifying for Zones as a sophomore was a worthwhile venture.

“It was a great experience being here for the first time, and it all went really well,” Peterson said. “It was very exciting, and I was honored to go and have a chance to represent Northeastern.”

With Zone A stretching from Vermont to Virginia and as far west as Ohio, Peterson had a chance to dive against some of the nation’s best athletes.

“There were a ton of great divers there, including ones I don’t usually dive against during the season, and it was nice to see the different mixture of people that where there,” Peterson said. “Being there as a sophomore helped me see the competition and get a sense of where I need to be in order to compete with the best.”

Gon said Peterson showed great progression throughout the season.

“Rachael was always very consistent and very confident,” Gon said. “Throughout the year she matured, grew mentally tough.”

Gon said he believes that kind of mental toughness is required in order to qualify for Zones, and it all starts in practice.

“What goes into qualifying is practicing the way you want to compete,” Gon said. “If you come to every practice and treat it as seriously as a meet, you’ll be able to handle the pressure when you’re in a meet. Rachael consistently came to practice with the right attitude and that’s the main ingredient.”

Gon said he believes Peterson could qualify for Nationals later in her career.

“Qualifying for Nationals is a tall order, but I think she can do it,” Gon said. “There is some work to do, and hard work is required, but she has the potential to do it and it’s a real possibility. She has the ability to put mistakes behind herself, and is extremely coachable. It’s like having a piece of clay and being able to mold it into whatever you need it to be. She can easily be one of the top 15 divers in our Zone.”