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A spirit that is not afraid

Diving team hopes to make splash at Georgia Tech

Sophomore Tony Cox flies across the pool in an attempt to beat rival swimmers from Louisiana State University Friday. (Elaine Busby  / Assistant photo editor)
Sophomore Tony Cox flies across the pool in an attempt to beat rival swimmers from Louisiana State University Friday. (Elaine Busby / Assistant photo editor)

The Auburn swimming and diving teams will host the War Eagle Invitational this weekend, but will part ways next month as the diving team heads to Atlanta for the Georgia Tech Diving Invitational.

The competition will take place Nov. 19-20.

Coach Jeff Shaffer expects the weekend to be good preparation for later competitions.

"We'll see a lot of the competition we'll have to step up against in the NCAA and the SEC," he said.

A number of ACC schools will be present, including host Georgia Tech, Clemson, Florida State, Miami and North Carolina State.

Florida will join Auburn in representing the SEC at the invitational.

Shaffer said he anticipates using the weekend to evaluate the team's standing and determine improvements that can be made for the future.

"Every time you get an opportunity to compete, you get an opportunity to assess where you are as an individual and where you are as a team," he said. "This part of the season is when we assess what we're doing well and what we didn't do well."

Shaffer said the team will continue to prepare through constant practice.

The team has a list of dives it performs each day at practice, as well as a platform routine that is practiced two days a week.

"Our goal is to become as consistent in practice as we can be," he said.

According to Shaffer, consistency in practice helps build confidence in competitions because divers have already achieved a reliable performance level and know what to expect.

Senior diving team member Dan Mazzaferro said he is hopeful about the competition.

"That's going to be our first tower meet," he said. "That [the 10-meter dive] is truly the event that I compete the best at."

Mazzaferro said he will prepare for the competition by continuing to push himself in the weight room and in the water.

He said he expects the team to do well.

"This team is truly something special this year that I can see going a long way," he said.

The swimming team will rejoin the diving team in December when both will compete at the Georgia Invitational Dec. 3-5.

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Coach Brett Hawke said he did not have a list of participating schools, although a number of SEC schools should be present to take on host Georgia.

"Georgia's a strong women's and men's team, so they're the ones that will be focused on the most," he said.

Despite the competition, Hawke said he is optimistic about the weekend.

"I feel like we're about a month ahead of where we were this time last year," he said.

Like the Georgia Tech Diving Invitational, Hawke sees the Georgia Invitational as preparation for future competitions.

"We're just trying to build momentum into the SEC Championship," Hawke said. "Really, it's all just moving forward with the team and trying to get better at this stage."

The swimming and diving teams competed at home against LSU and Notre Dame last weekend, taking first in a majority of the 32 events.

"We're trying to prove ourselves as a tough team, so this was the first step," Hawke said. "Georgia will be another step in the right direction."

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