Story by Catherine Lira for NM State Athletic Media Relations
LAS CRUCES, N.M. – After becoming the first diver to compete in zones since 2009, returning diver Audrey Ruiz is back for a new season with the New Mexico State University swimming and diving team.
Ruiz led the team last season as a freshman and competed in the NCAA Zone “E” Diving Championships in Colorado Springs, Colo. (March14-16). She qualified for the meet after a 271.88 performance on the 1-meter springboard in Idaho (Jan. 18). She finished in second place at the event.
Having to maintain a high reputation can be challenging, Ruiz mentioned.
“I’m feeling a little more confident in building off from that [qualifying for zones] because it can only get better, so I’m excited to see what that is going to bring,” Ruiz said.
While Ruiz may not have her coach from last season, she said she has her teammates for encouragement.
”I’m trying to trust myself more, I put my trust into my teammates,” said Ruiz. “They help me calm down and motivate me to keep going.”
Ruiz comes from a line of swimmers. She has an older brother that is a senior diver at Texas A&M that helps keep Ruiz in the zone.
Ruiz practices Monday through Saturday, about two hours in the water each day plus an hour of weights or dry-land training. Before a meet Ruiz stays focused by plugging in her earphones and taking her mind to a calm place.
“I’ll listen to upbeat music and talk to the other divers and make it seem more like a practice rather than a meet to keep my stress level low,” Ruiz said.
During last season’s regular-season finale against New Mexico (Feb. 2), Ruiz recorded lifetime-best scores on the 1-meter (275.18) and 3-meter (251.03). She finished in second and fourth place, respectively.
At the 2013 WAC Championships, she helped the Aggie divers supply points with a pair of top-10 showings. Ruiz was eighth on the 3-meter and ninth on the 1-meter. In addition, she earned Academic All-WAC Freshman honors.
While finding the time to do school work, dive and still manage a social life, Ruiz has it all under control.
“As soon as I get home I’ll start on my homework so I don’t have to worry about it in the evening, or I’ll do it when I have a break between classes or before I have to come to practice,” Ruiz said.
Ruiz is a nursing major and plans to focus on her nursing career when she graduates from NM State.
Ruiz joined the Aggies from Lubbock, Texas, after diving for six years with the Lubbock Dive Club under coach Penny Dipomazio. She has competed in USA Diving junior and senior-level meets and AAU National meets during her time with the club team.
Ruiz concluded her high school career at Coronado High School and placed 11th on the 1-meter springboard at the Texas 5A Championships. She was a second team all-state selection in 2012 and two-time first-team honoree, in 2010 and 2011. Ruiz was the district and regional diver of the year in 2011 and 2012.
Ruiz is looking forward to Western Athletic Conference and hoping to qualify for zones for a second time.
“WAC is the most fun and biggest meet we have. I am definitely looking forward to that,” she said.
Ruiz and the rest of the swimming and diving team begin this season’s competitive schedule on Friday, Oct. 25, at Colorado Springs, Colo. against the Air Force Academy.