Junior Daniel Pires dove into the new year, having a huge effect on both his team and the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Just in the last two months, Pires has been named the MAAC Student-Athlete of the Week along with being named MAAC Diver of the Week for his outstanding performance in the Stags meet against Iona.
The honors were well-deserved after Pires managed to break two school records in the one-meter and three-meter dives for six dives. In the one-meter dive, the record was previously set by Taylor Stecko ‘10 in 2009 with a score of 297.80. Pires crushed this seven-year record by finishing with a 336.90 in the one-meter. In the three-meter dive, Pires swiped Stecko’s previous record of 317.05 and set the new high to 327.40.
“Breaking the school records was definitely a personal goal of mine,” said Pires, “and it was nice to do it at the last meet of the season.”
His scores have just clinched him a spot in the Eastern College Athletic Conference as well as the National Collegiate Athletic Association Zone A competition, both of which Pires has not yet had the opportunity to compete in.
After the team graduated four seniors last season, Pires was responsible for stepping up for his team.
“Transitioning from an underclassmen to an upperclassmen definitely made a difference,” said Pires. “Without the older kids there, it was tough, but I made it work.”
Last season, his performance was undermined by the senior class of swimmers and divers who had used their years of experience to lead the team. He was Fairfield’s top finisher in the one-meter dive during the MAAC preliminaries.
However, things have changed drastically for the diver. In his meet against Holy Cross last season, Pires set his personal best in the three-meter dive with a score of 294.60. His now personal best and school record just a year later is nearly 30 points higher than Stecko’s. Pires added that he owes a lot of his success to his diving coach Dan Vener.
“My coach Dan is one of the best coaches I have ever had,” said Pires. “He’s really motivating.”
Pires will need the motivation as he prepares himself for the upcoming MAAC championships that are set to begin on Feb. 10 in Buffalo, New York. Currently, he holds the highest score in the MAAC league in the one-meter event for six dives. Senior Josh Dodway from Marist follows closely behind with the second highest score, 323.20. In the three-meter, he trails behind the top score by only 2.2 points. He is hopeful that he will be able to be the top finisher in both events during the MAAC championships.
“I want to perform as well as I can,” said Pires. “I’m afraid of not reaching personal bests, but the team has been practicing every day, we do doubles every day.”
With personal bests even higher than they were a month ago, Pires has quite the obstacle to overcome. But, if he continues at his current pace, the top spots in the one-meter and three-meter six dive event will be his.