Diving Sensation Brittany Viola Signs with Miami

CORAL GABLES, Fla. January 7. NEARLY two years ago Brittany Viola narrowly missed making the 2004 U.S. Olympic Diving Team after finishing second on the 10-meter platform at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. Now, the senior out of Lake Highland Preparatory School in Orlando, Fla. will join the long list of accomplished divers to compete at the University of Miami. Viola signed a national letter of intent to compete for Miami and head coach Randy Ableman in 2006-07.

“I think Brittany is one of the best prospects in the country. I think that she is one of the best high school divers in the past ten years,” said Ableman. “Her best event is the 10-meter platform. Obviously, finishing second in the Olympic Trials on the platform shows that she is one of the best divers in the country.”

During the trials, Viola rose from fifth to second in the women’s 10-meter platform but missed the team on account of squad limitations due to the new synchronized event. Her second place finish was the best of her career and third Top Five finish in 2004.

2004 was a big year for Viola who teamed-up with 2000 Olympic gold medalist Laura Wilkinson to win the World Championship Trials in the synchronized 10-meter platform event. They went on to claim a silver medal at the Speedo FINA Diving Grand Prix and finished fourth in the FINA World Championships.

In 2003 Viola, just three years into the sport, claimed the Speedo Junior National Championship on 10-meter and has won every year since. In 2002, she finished first in the East Junior National Diving Championships on the 1-meter and second in the Speedo National diving championships on the 10-meter.

Viola garnered High School First Team All-America honors in both 2002 and 2003. She claimed a silver medal at the Florida State High School meet in 2002 before winning the championship in 2003.

“In high school she pretty much specialized in the 10-meter platform and focused on becoming one of the top international divers in that event,” said Ableman. “In college we dive the 1-, 3- and 10-meter. Although it’ll take a little bit of time to manage those extra diving events, I think down the road she will be the best diver in the nation in all events, not just on the 10-meter.”

Viola, the daughter of former major league pitcher Frank Viola, who was the 1987 World Series MVP for the Minnesota Twins, the 1988 American League Cy Young Award winner and a three-time All-Star, began diving in 2000 after the high school swim coach saw her jumping off the diving boards during P.E. class.

An international elite gymnast and Olympic hopeful at age 10 Viola received one of the highest scores ever on the compulsory routine on beam but retired at age 13. Viola, who became the youngest member of the U.S. diving team in 2002, knew that Miami was the place for her. “I loved everything about Miami. I loved the campus. I loved the coaches. I knew that it was a good fit for me,” she said.