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Arizona’s Delaney Schnell, Dwight Dumais sweep Pac-12 Diver and Coach of the Year honors


For the third time in her career, Arizona diver Delaney Schnell has been named Pac-12 Women’s Diver of the Year, while her coach, Dwight Dumais, has earned Pac-12 Diving Coaching of the Year honors.

Schnell concluded her collegiate career last week by winning the NCAA national championship in platform diving. The sixth-year senior is a 13-time All-American.

Earlier this season Schnell took home the Pac-12 title in the 3-meter and 1-meter, while finishing runner-up in platform.

Dumais has coached Schnell for the last five seasons at Arizona. Dumais also coached Schnell to a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics in the 10-meter synchronized platform.

Speaking at McKale Center Wednesday, Schnell said that winning a national title at Arizona is as good if not a better feeling than winning an Olympic medal. Schnell finished runner-up in platform at NCAAs two years in a row before finally breaking through this year.

“You would think that winning a silver medal is more emotional and a bigger thing, but for me this has so much history behind it because it was a lot of close calls, it was a lot of trials and error,” Schnell said. “I think this one just has so much meaning behind it. It’s hard to compare but at the same time this one is really special to me.”

Schnell, a Tucson native and graduate of Tucson High School, found her way into diving after seeing UA diver Izzy Diamond practicing at a local pool that her siblings trained at. Schnell at the time was burnt out on gymnastics and wanted a change.

Diamond, like Schnell, had originally been a gymnast before switching to diving. Diamond encouraged Schnell to pursue diving.

“I actually gave it a shot and immediately fell in love with it,” Schnell said. “Diving is like almost vertical gymnastics. The only major difference is that you are landing on your head and in gymnastics you’re taught not to do that. I think that was the one thing that was challenging for me to figure out.

“When I was younger, I kept coming out to land on my head and then flipped straight over to land on my feet because I was taught for years to never do that. That was the one big transition but otherwise the air awareness, the flipping, flexibility, strength, all of that is very similar.”

While the physical side of diving came naturally to Schnell, she had a tougher time dealing with the mental hurdles that competitive divers inevitably face.

In 2021, Schnell finished second in platform at NCAAs, an experience that she calls a “hard pill to swallow.”

“First time I was very, very close. Things just didn’t go how they were planned. The final just fell apart for me. That’s the unfortunate thing about diving. Some days you’re going to be on fire, you’re going to be hitting your dives left and right. And some days it’s just not going to be clicking.

“It was really just figuring out what I needed to do to be in the right mindset at the right time. This time around I tried to put less pressure on myself. I had won an Olympic medal this time around. There was just less pressure. Knowing it was my last event collegiately, I really just wanted to enjoy the last competition I had for Arizona, and I think going in with the mindset, ‘I just want to make the little Delaney proud, I just want to make the little girl proud’ and just enjoy the moment.”

Schnell said her relationship with Dumais helped change her attitude towards diving. When Dumais joined the program in 2018, Dumais knew that Schnell wasn’t fully enjoying the pursuit, she said.

“At one point he sat me down and told me, ‘You just have to remember why you’re doing this in the first place and what your purpose is. At some point you have to forget about all the trophies and all the awards and just dive for the little girl that started in the first place.’”

Schnell said that Dumais was one of the first coaches who was less wrapped up in the results and more concerned in Schnell being a better person.

“I think that was a pivotal moment for me to really appreciate why I’m diving,” she said.

Schnell isn’t going anywhere. She is sticking around in Tucson to train with Dumais for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

Schnell is also finishing a master’s program at the UA in speech pathology. She wants to eventually work as a speech therapist.

In the meantime, Schnell has her mind set on another goal: earning an individual medal at the Olympics.