Dedicating time and effort is a key characteristic of a strong athlete. Breaking records, achieving goals and working hard, Samantha Pickens has done just that, all while making her mark on Arizona’s diving program.
With her team by her side, Pickens knows she will have support in the rest of her senior year. As she embarks on the second half of the 2013-2014 diving season, she aims to leave her mark at Arizona by leading the younger divers by example.
“What I have learned in the past couple months is to stay positive,” Pickens said. “Everyone is looking at you, whether you are mad or whatever, your team is going to feed off of you. I think staying positive and trying to do everything (diving coach) Omar tells me to do, so that has really helped everyone else, because they want to do the same thing.”
With three years under her belt, Pickens knows well enough how to help the newcomers adjust to the college world of diving. With her help, the younger divers look up to her and her accomplishments.
“The two freshmen that are here were very serious when they came in, which is completely fine,” Pickens said. “But you need to have a balance with being serious and having fun. I think that is one thing I have learned the most in the four years I have been here. You need to have fun when you are diving, so I try and lighten the mood and go into meets with a fun mindset. So I think that has really helped them.”
Diving Coach Omar Ojeda has taken notice of Pickens’ leadership role.
“Her leadership has been really good,” Ojeda said. “All of the divers and swimmers are learning from her work ethic and mentally she has become the best. She has added a lot to the team this year.”
The coaching has been very supportive of Pickens over the years. With the new addition of head diving coach Omar Ojeda in 2012, Pickens stood strong and worked hard with the new changes in the program.
“I think the biggest change was the coaching change in the middle of my sophomore year,” Pickens said. “Omar is very technical, which I like. There’s always something that can be worked on because I really want to be perfect when I am out there. Omar is very motivating at the pool day in and day out, so that’s what I really love most about him.”
Ojeda trains Pickens everyday and sees that she has been getting better during each practice. With her hard work, Pickens tries her best at everything Ojeda throws her way.
“We try to do all the dives outside of the pool first,” Ojeda said. “This is the most important part of the day and about 80 percent of her workout is outside of the pool. Whether it be on the trampoline or whatever it really helps her confidence once she applies it to the pool.”
Pickens made history in 2013 when she became the first Arizona female to win a NCAA National Championship. But she still has aspirations for her upcoming senior season.
“I am looking forward to going to NCAAs this year,” Pickens said. “I really want a three meter title this year, so I think that is what I am going for from now until March. I really just want to have an overall really good team NCAAs.”
Pickens knows her goals for this year and is willing to sacrifice a lot of her time to do so. Ojeda sees her fighting and striving for that other national championship.
“She is better than ever,” Ojeda said. “She knows what she wants and she knows what to do to get that.”
Although Pickens is looking forward to graduation, there are several things she will miss about the Arizona Swimming and Diving team.
“I think I will miss the team the most,” Pickens said. “Everyone is a family, I’m always going to know these people, but being on a team with them and living everyday with them; I’m definitely going to miss that.”
Not only does Pickens have the support system of her team, she also has the support of her family. Both of her parents love to come out to the meets and watch their daughter dive, and have enjoyed watching her throughout the years.
“My parents are at every single big meet that I have,” Pickens said. “I cried actually at NCAAs when I won, I was walking up to the podium and the stands were right in front of me. I looked up and both of my parents were sobbing and they support me in everything I do. To have them there and see me win a NCAA title was just the best feeling.”
With all of the support and love from her teammates and family, Pickens is ready for her last season at Arizona. With her hard work and dedication, Pickens not only hopes to finish her last year out strong, but also stands as a role model for future divers.