GWANGJU, South Korea – Three U.S. divers were among those qualifying for 1-meter finals as the FINA World Aquatic Championships kicked off Friday. Sarah Bacon (Indianapolis, Ind./Minneapolis, Minn.) and Maria Coburn (Round Rock, Texas/Tucson, Ariz.) advanced to Saturday’s women’s 1-meter final, while Briadam Herrera (Miami, Fla.) qualified for Sunday’s men’s 1-meter final.
Bacon qualified for the women’s final after placing sixth with 240 points in the prelims, while Coburn took seventh at 239.70.
Bacon made her senior international debut and competed in her first international meet in nearly five years, having last competed internationally at the 2014 FINA World Junior Championships. She opened with 50.40 points on an inward 1 ½ pike and scored 51.60 on a reverse 1 ½ pike in round three for her highest scoring dive of the prelim.
“I was a little nervous on my first dive, but after I did my first dive I was able to settle down and perform well the rest of the event. I’m very excited especially since Maria also made it. It’s going to be exciting having two people from the U.S. in the final,” Bacon said.
In 20th place after two rounds, Coburn moved into a three-way tie for 11th with 50.70 points on a reverse 1 ½ with 1 ½ twists in round three. Her fourth-round reverse 2 ½ tuck all but locked up her spot in the final as she scored 54 points to jump to sixth place with one round to go.
“I’m very excited. This was much better than my performance at the last World Championships. I’ve definitely learned and grown from that,” said Coburn, who was 22nd on 1-meter at her first World Championships in Budapest, Hungary two years ago.
Herrera scored 365.25 to finish sixth in the men’s 1-meter preliminary and showcased the highest degree of difficulty of any diver in the contest.
Herrera competed his front 2 ½ with two twists for the first time. The dive carries a 3.6 degree of difficulty, and Herrera was the only diver to perform the dive in the contest. He scored 64.80 points on the dive, to go from 14th to seventh place in the standings at the halfway point of the prelims.
Herrera followed up with 54.40 points on his inward 2 ½ pike and 61.05 points on a front 3 ½ pike. He moved up to sixth place after closing out his list with 66 points on a reverse 1 ½ with 2 ½ twists.
“I was a little nervous at first, but I think I handled it well,” Herrera said. “I just had to stay on my game. I did the job, and I’ve got to get ready for Sunday’s final and really turn it up.”
Michael Hixon (Amherst, Mass./Bloomington, Ind.) scored 330.00 points in the 1-meter prelim and did not advance after finishing 17th.
Diving events at the FINA World Championships continue through July 24. In addition to the women’s 1-meter final, Saturday’s competition also includes Hixon and Andrew Capobianco (Holly Springs, N.C./Bloomington, Ind.) in the men’s synchronized 3-meter preliminaries, with the final also set for Saturday. Olivia Rosendahl (Los Angeles/Miami, Fla.) and Zach Cooper (Greenwood, Ind./Miami, Fla.) will compete in the mixed synchronized 10-meter contest.