Pichardo is a true freshman diver and has certainly made a name for herself in the short time she has been at Ohio. The Swimming and Diving Team is currently 7-0, dominating its final meet of the regular season against Ball State 219-81 on Saturday.
Megan Vanvlack | Staff Photographer
Freshman Astrid Pichardo competes in the 3 meter dive event during the meet against Akron, Nov. 4, 2023, at Ohio University's Aquatic Center in Athens, Ohio.
This meet was a critical one for Pichardo, as she received a score of 291.30 in the 3-meter dive. This score earned her a spot in the NCAA Zone C diving competition where she will have a chance to compete for a spot at the NCAA Championship in March. Pichardo also won the 1-meter event with a score of 275.33.
Experiencing success was not abnormal for Pichardo, as she has consistently placed at meets all season. Thanks to her performance against Marshall with her second-place finishes in both the 3-meter and 1-meter event, Pichardo was named Mid-American Conference Diver of the Week on Jan. 10.
“There are a lot of emotions every time I share more time with my team – it's the most beautiful thing,” —Astrid Pichardo
Regarding her journey to Ohio, Pichardo said other schools in the U.S. were interested in her, but it was Talisa Lemke, the Ohio diving coach, who made her feel like Ohio was the right choice.
“I really felt connected when she started to send me messages,” Pichardo said. “I believe here is where I belong.”
As she has spent more time on campus and more time with her teammates, Pichardo said she has had a wonderful experience forging friendships in and out of the pool.
“There are a lot of emotions every time I share more time with my team – it's the most beautiful thing,” said Pichardo.
Pichardo said she has been a diver for 10 years, and one of the hardest things about diving is maintaining consistency. Like many sports, she said diving is more of a mental game, one where the athlete must be locked in the entire time. She said her main goal as the season wears on is to channel her emotions into her diving.
“I'm learning again how to lead with my emotions when I'm in competitions,” Pichardo said. “It has been being consistent in my diving.”
Pichardo said there are not a lot of opportunities for women’s diving in Mexico, and she had always thought of attending a university in the U.S. as a lofty goal, not a reality.
Maddie Montalbano embracing teammate Astrid Pichardo following her first place finish in the 3m diving dual aginst Ball State University on Jan. 27, 2023, securing her a NCAA Zone cut
“I don't think I ever believed it was possible,” Pichardo said. “For me, it was not a very concrete idea, really.”
She said the work she had done in Mexico along with the support and insight from her peers back home made it possible. Additionally, her parents were ecstatic for her.
“The truth is that they were very happy,” she said. “It was some of the best news they've ever had.”
She said it was a relief for her parents, knowing how much time and effort she had devoted. Additionally, they were happy she could continue doing what she loves while receiving an education.
Regarding what she misses from Mexico, Pichardo said she of course misses her parents, her dog and her friends, as well as her giant swimming pool. Despite this, she said the support she has received here has been fantastic, and her teammates are some of the best people she knows.
“The atmosphere here is very nice,” she said. “I love it here.”
It seems the sky's the limit for Pichardo, with big opportunities on the horizon. Next on the docket for Ohio is the 2024 Ohio State Winter Invite in Columbus, Feb. 16-18.