About a week after going to the NCAA championships, Rutgers dived Savana Cloudy received some surprising news.
From the names of the US national team, their name was chosen for the 2022 World University Games, scheduled for July in Chengdu, China.
The World University Games, which take place every two years in a different city, are a celebration of international university sports and international university culture. The event brings together more than 10,000 student-athletes from over 150 countries to compete, making it one of the largest and most prestigious multisport events in the world.
After a long season for the Scarlet Knights, which saw Trueb placing her name among some of the all-time best finishes in Rutgers history, she had to flip the switch from the offseason to prepare to get back on the water.
“I was excited because it’s an honor to represent the USA and I was excited to see a new country and dive with some of the best athletes in the world,” she said of her selection. “Psychologically, I had to get back into the game quicker than expected. I took the time I needed and got myself back into the game. I was fit and really on track for the World University Games.
“And then I found out.”
When Trueb filed her final paperwork to leave the country to compete in July, unfortunate news came – another twist for 2022. The decision had been made to postpone the Games to 2023.
While the news came as a disappointment, it should come as no surprise to those who know this up-and-coming senior Scarlet Knight to accept the challenge of returning to the World University Games roster. In fact, accepting a new challenge was just the beginning of her journey.
Twisting and turning through the air was nothing new to Trueb when she got into diving. She had spent six years as a competitive gymnast when another sport happened to catch her eye.
“One of my old teammates tried diving,” Trüb recalls. “She liked it, so I tried it my freshman year of high school and here I am today.”
Although Trueb was a relative latecomer to the sport, she found that she wasn’t afraid to make it big on the boards while also perfecting the fundamentals and techniques needed to be a successful diver.
“I love the adrenaline, so trying new dives was easy,” said the Scarlet Knight, who would go on to set a school record of 10 million. “I wanted to show college coaches that I’m willing to try anything.”
Trueb first started her career in Missouri, where she won the 2021 SEC platform title and qualified for two NCAA championships, but was looking for something more.
Rutgers happened to represent a win-win situation – a great place to pursue her passion in and out of the pool. Rutgers’ Mason Gross School of the Arts, majoring in art, not only proved to be one of the best programs in the country, but its proximity to New York City was attractive due to the tremendous opportunities for internships and resume-building prospects.
However, the ultimate deciding factor in joining Rutgers was the addition of a dive coach Natasha Chikina to the staff.
“She is a fantastic coach. In fact, she’s probably the best coach in the nation,” Trueb enthused. “She’s very charismatic and she’s like a mother. It makes us do what we need to do, it drives us and it helps us.”
In her freshman year “On The Banks,” Trueb returned for the first time on all three boards to qualify for the NCAA Championships and helped the Scarlet Knights to their highest result in Big Ten championship history by winning the consolation final on the platform reached.
However, it was her performance at the US Winter Nationals in December that made the Scarlet Knight famous for the World University Games.
“I did pretty well and then got picked up for the US national team as a third-place finisher,” she explained.
Fresh from Big Al Open titles on 1M and platform, which included a then school record of 295.60 on 10M, Trueb reached the platform finals at Nationals and finished seventh overall with a score of 547.25.
USA Diving took notice and in April Trueb was selected to represent the United States.
Trueb was ready to build on her college success and take it to the international stage, taking with her all the lessons she learned from the previous season.
“I became mentally tougher during competitions and learned to be more consistent,” she said. “It was definitely a growing year. There were positives, but also negatives.”
Trueb had hoped for higher rankings in both the Big Tens and the NCAAs, but the Scarlet Knight isn’t one to dwell on the past.
“I’ll just try to carry the positive things over to next year and actively work on the negative ones to improve them. You always want to go further, but I look at the foundation I’ve laid for myself this year and now I want to keep going further and improving.”
This mentality also applies to the postponement of the World University Games.
“I’m going to the Nationals this summer,” she noted. “So I’m going to keep the training schedule that I wanted to do for the World University Games. I made it my mind to come to training with goals and a good attitude.”
For now, Trueb will keep trying to make those big leaps to not only continue the success of this year’s results for the Scarlet Knights, but to be ready for the next time USA Diving calls.
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