Missouri Diving Headfirst Into The SEC

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COLUMBIA -- The Southeastern Conference is the mecca of football. But it's also the premier diving conference in the nation. Gridiron greats such as Florida, Auburn, and Georgia are powerhouses in the pool.

So Missouri will go from having two conference opponents in the NCAA's Top 25 to having six next season. As the competition elevates, Mizzou diving coach Jamie Sweeney looks forward to the leap.

"The way I think of it is we're trying to build national champions here," Sweeney said. "My frame of mind is let's go compete against the best because if you want to be the best, we got to compete against the best."

In fact, Sweeney made a bold prediction his team will win the conference.

"We're already gearing up for next year. We're going to win the SEC in men's and women's diving, and kind of send a message. We're not coming in at last and working our way up the ladder. We're starting off on top and you're going to have to fight to beat us out of that spot." Sweeney said.

Sweeney says those questioning his divers' ability to compete will be proven wrong.

"You hear comments like ‘You think you're ready for the high level of competition in the SEC?' and then two days later I had a kid win the national championship," Sweeney said.

In order to achieve those lofty goals, the squad will rely on David Bonuchi. He's already won nationals and broken every MU diving record as a sophomore.

"It has to do with natural ability," Bonuchi said. "Some people have it, some people don't. I think I just have that ability to turn on that switch that kicks it into overdrive."

Interestingly enough, Sweeney began coaching Bonuchi when he was twelve years old.

"The first time I saw him dive, I knew he had it," Sweeney said.

"Jamie has taken me beyond the limits, and he always seems to keep improving my talents every day," Bonuchi said.

So when MU officially joins the SEC, Sweeney and Bonuchi are diving in headfirst.

The Missouri diving team is fresh off a victory over Drury University this past weekend and will host the Big 12 Championships for the final time February 22nd-25th.