In one season, freshman Jiayu Chen has accomplished just about everything an athlete would want. Chen has broken records with an undefeated, regular-season streak, all while keeping a steady goal to continue improving.
At the Big 12 Championships on Feb. 28, Chen won her first career conference title by setting the meet record in the women’s three-meter dive.
“Honestly, I didn’t know about the record, but I was very surprised,” Chen said.
The freshman scored 384.60, outscoring second place by three points. Chen became the second-ever Kansas Big 12 diving champion, following then-senior Vicky Xu’s performance at the 2019 Big 12 Championships.
“I wasn’t thinking about trying to be the champion, I just wanted to do my best,” Chen said.
Chen has gone nine-for-nine in the three-meter, holding an undefeated streak so far this season. In the regular season competitions, she held a perfect 16-for-16 in first-place finishes in both the one-meter and the three-meter.
It was her second place finish in the one-meter at the Big 12 Championships that put a stop to her perfect record.
“I’m so proud of what she’s done, acclimating to school, culture, everything, and to come out ahead is outstanding,” Coach Gabe Downey said.
Chen attended high school in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, located in southeast China. This is her first semester at the University of Kansas.
“I chose KU because I wanted to improve my English," Chen said. "I knew that KU had a good program."
Chen’s success on the boards has not gone unnoticed.
With less than a week before the NCAA Championships, Chen says she does not have any specific goals, other than to qualify and do her best.