Junior diver enjoys breakout season with three event wins


Zac Nees Courtesy Photo

Junior diver Zac Nees hadn’t won an event since the platform dive at the 2009 Hoosierland Invitational. Now, he’s won three events in the past month.

Despite swimming from age 6, Nees didn’t start diving until he was 14-years-old.

“I got bored of it,” Nees said of swimming. “One summer, I tried out diving and instantly loved it and decided to further pursue it into my freshman year of high school.”

By his senior year, Nees was the district and league champion in diving. During the 2009 Junior East National Championships, Nees won the 1-meter dive competition.

Though he had other options, Nees found his true top choice at that meet.

“Indiana decided to give me a shot when I won at the Junior East National Championships,” Nees said. “The last-minute discovery and the fact that I waited to decide until really late in my senior year almost made it feel like it was meant to be.”

Nees said he knew his diving career would progress with the guidance of IU Diving Coach Jeff Huber, who has developed top talent for IU. His freshman year, Nees won the platform dive at a 2009 meet, his first collegiate victory. Nees didn’t win another dive that season or the next.

“I never doubted my ability, and neither did Huber,” Nees said. “We really worked together on long-term success rather than putting a huge focus on winning dual meets.”

That long-term preparation paid off Nov. 4 against No. 1 Michigan and No. 2 Texas, nearly two years after his previous victory. Nees won the 1-meter dive with a score of 408.95, his first career dual meet victory and the fourth-best score in IU history.

Two weeks later, Nees swept both the 1- and 3-meter dives against No. 21 Virginia and Penn State and earned his first Big Ten Diver of the Week award of his career.

“Zac has really matured in many ways,” Huber said. “I’m excited for him and his future performances.”

Nees said his goals for the remainder of the season include qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Team Trials on the 3-meter springboard by placing in the top 12 of the event at the 2012 USA Diving Winter National Championships from Dec. 15 to 22. For now, Nees said there are still things to work on.

“I feel like I am beginning to dive at the level I should be competing at, though I don’t think I am at my peak,” Nees said. “There is still a lot of room for improvement, and I hope to continue to get better as the season goes on.”

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