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Nadadores to Play Host Mexican National Team in 2-Day Diving Competition

Times Staff Writer

The rivalry has been termed more friendly than fierce, partly because the Mission Viejo Nadadores, probably the finest collection of divers on earth, have become well acquainted over the years with their neighbors south of the border. And partly because in the four years the teams have gone against each other in dual meets, the Mexican national diving team has yet to win.

After a one-year Olympic pause, the teams renew their rivalry today at the Marguerite Recreation Center in Mission Viejo. Five divers who competed in the 1984 Games will participate in the two-day event, which begins at 1 p.m. with 3-meter springboard diving. The 10-meter platform competition will be held Sunday.

One of the Olympians is Michele Mitchell, last summer’s silver medalist on the platform in Los Angeles. While her team is unbeaten against the Mexicans in this meet, she says it’s possible the Nadadores’ streak could be in jeopardy.

“Diving’s such a wacky sport, so anything can happen,” said Mitchell, also a three-time national champion and 1985’s World Cup champion. “You can get a (score of) ‘2' or you can get a ’10.’ ”

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Though the Nadadores never like to lose--and they rarely do--winning won’t be their only concern this weekend. They’re using the meet as a means of gaining international experience and preparing for some of the more important events later in the season. As for Mitchell, who her coach, Ron O’Brien, says is beginning to dominate the sport in a manner similar to that of Greg Louganis, it is an opportunity to perfect a new dive for her in competition--the forward 3 1/2-somersault pike.

“It’s not a world-class event,” she said. “It gives our divers a chance to have some really good competition without the pressure of a really big meet. It’s just to help us sharpen our skills. While it’s important, we’re approaching it as a fun meet, also.”

But, O’Brien said, it will be much less fun for the Nadadores if they don’t end up on the winning end of the score.

“The team concept of this meet makes it important for us,” he said. “We’ve never lost to them, and we really don’t want to lose to them now.”

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One of the divers O’Brien will be counting on, Ron Meyer, sees the contest in the same light, but he also agrees with Mitchell that this is a dual meet with a dual purpose.

“I think we’ll win,” he said. “I don’t see much chance of them beating us. But it should be fun. I’m kind of using it as a springboard (an event in which he’ll compete) for some of the more important meets coming up.”

But in terms of winning and losing, the meet is more important to the Mexicans. They are preparing for their national championship, which is next weekend. The Nadadores, meanwhile, are competing in their first meet of the summer season, and O’Brien isn’t looking for them to peak until their own national meet, which is in August.

Mitchell, the lone U.S. Olympian in the meet, will compete both in the 3- and 10-meter events. Wendy Williams, who finished third in last year’s Olympic trials on the 10-meter board, also will dive in the springboard and platform competition. She won a national title in springboard last year.

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The Nadadore men will be led in springboard by Meyer, this year’s NCAA champion in both events from the University of Arkansas, and in platform by the coach’s son, Tim O’Brien, an All-American from the University of Miami.

Elsa Tenorio, sixth in 3-meter and seventh in 10-meter competition at the ’84 Olympics, will dive in the springboard event for the Mexican national team. She’ll be joined by Guadalupe Canseco (who finished eighth at 10 meters in the Olympics) at both heights.

The top men for Mexico will be Olympians Jorge Mondragon (ninth in springboard) and Jose Luis Rocha (13th in platform). They will dive in both events.

The Nadadores will be without Olympic double gold medalist Greg Louganis and 10-meter bronze medalist Wendy Wyland this weekend. Louganis has had a busy schedule of public appearances and won’t be back in training until next month. Wyland will miss the meet because of shoulder problems.

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“It’s gonna be a very close contest,” O’Brien said. “You don’t know what’s gonna happen until you get down to the last dive.”


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