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To build or not to build: arduous journey lies ahead of Cal Men’s Diving

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NOVEMBER 10, 2022

Spending months filled with frustration and anger to complete that daunting LEGO set is an experience many of us know all too well. 

The hours lost squinting at tiny unclear arrows, and prying apart pieces seemingly stuck together with Gorilla Glue are hours that will never be returned.

Perhaps an experience some of us know even better is the mere seconds it takes for that sibling to trample the set. In the blink of an eye, the days spent toiling over minute bricks are gone to waste, as evil laughter reverberates the room. 

Especially in LEGOs, life has shown one thing to be true: creation takes twice the effort of destruction. 

It’s a lesson that the Cal men’s diving program has learned the hard way over the past decade. Despite multiple attempts to revive the program through coaching changes and even the creation of a new diving facility, the team has yet to gain meaningful traction. 

The lack of a consistent diving squad cost the men’s swim and dive team a championship not so long ago. In 2021, the blue and gold swimmers managed to outscore Texas swimmers, only for the Longhorns to take home the chip as their divers scored 83 points compared to Cal’s whopping zero. 

And despite the fact that Cal swimmers were able to secure the 2022 NCAA National Championship, had Texas’ divers performed better, we might be looking at Texas as back-to-back champs today.

It seems as though it might be easier for the Bears to leave the diving program as it is – battered, destroyed, and lifeless. Focusing all their efforts on extending the dominance of their swim team certainly seems like the more efficient plan. But year after year, the blue and gold try to rebuild the program, one piece at a time. 

The most recent change came just this past April, when Cal hired Pei Lin to take over both the men’s and women’s diving team. A quick glance at her résumé shows that Lin has what it takes to be the foundational pillar of an illustrious creation. She is a three-time NCAA runner-up and most impressively, a Chinese National Champion, having won a national competition in what is undisputedly the most competitive diving scene in the world. 

In the short time since Lin has arrived at Berkeley, the diving program has already shown more promise than past years. In the first dual meet against Utah back in early October, freshman Joshua Thai was able to win the one meter diving event, and Lin’s expertise has certainly had a tangible effect on his performance. 

“Transitioning from high school to college is a big jump but with someone like [Lin], the transition has been a lot easier,” said Thai. “Training with [Lin] has been going great. She pushes me to be a better diver everyday with her intense workouts and extensive knowledge of the sport”. 

The next opportunity for the men’s diving program to continue to make ground will be at the Trojan Diving Invitational from November 11-13th. Although the divers will certainly hope to place well, just showing up at the event will be an improvement from last year when the blue and gold did not have competitors to even send to the meet. 

The creation of a skilled men’s diving program will certainly take the pressure off of the swimming side of things when the team hopes to be crowned back-to-back National Champs come this March. 

Whether this will be the year the program is able to rise or crumble once again like an unfortunate LEGO set remains to be seen. However, there is something to be said about a program that refuses to remain shattered and broken, especially when history continues to show that destruction often triumphs creation.

Ivan Wu covers men’s swim and dive. Contact him at [email protected].

NOVEMBER 10, 2022