Meaghan Benfeito may be missing her synchro diving partner Roseline Filion, but it didn't keep her from capturing silver at the FINA Diving Grand Prix in Rostock, Germany on Friday.
She hasn't been to a competition without Filion in 10 years, though the recent time apart has allowed Benfeito to only focus on her individual event the 10 metre platform. She is saddened by the absence of her longtime partner, but has seen some noticeable improvements.
"Now because I don't have to do synchro it gives me the opportunity to work on the little mistakes that I was doing," she said on a call from Rostock. "So that has been really good, and I'm excited because when I do get to do synchro again with Rosie, my diving will be a lot better."
Benfeito won this event last year, and was very pleased with capturing the silver in 2016. She revealed her new dive at this event, a back arm-stand double with one-and-a-half twists. This is a dive that she has been working on since after the world championships in Russia last year, and it has the highest possible degree of difficulty for a female diver.
"I keep the hardest difficulty dive for right in the middle, because mentally my hardest dive is always the final dive," she said of the dive that her coach Arturo Miranda had to force her to learn initially.
"I sort of missed the dive, but I feel a lot more in control when I do the dive than I used to, so I'm happy that I feel more confidence when doing it."
National team coach Aaron Dziver is accompanying the team while they are are overseas and he says he's excited about what he has seen recently in Benfeito's diving.
Putting 5 dives together
"If Meaghan puts her five dives together, she's fighting for a top two performance at the Olympics, no question," Dziver said. "The big thing is putting the five dives together when you need it, and this is the very first step with her first international competition of the year."
Another standout performance came from 18-year-old Philippe Gagne of Montreal. In his very first senior grand prix event, he was able to capture silver in the 3m springboard competition.
Gagne says he was totally surprised by his performance.
"My semifinals was two Chinese divers and an Olympic German diver, so I didn't even expect to make it through to the finals," he said. "My new dive [inward three-and-a-half tuck] went well, so that definitely helped."
Gagne has a lot of confidence moving forward with the 3m synchro and 10m platform events still ahead in Germany. His coach Aaron Dziver has seen a lot of promise with his success and versatility at such a young age.
"He's very determined and hard on himself when he doesn't perform the way that he wants to perform," Dziver said. "We [the coaches] don't have to do a lot of pushing when it comes to Philippe. He's the one that leads the show in that sense, we just try to take him the most efficient way to get to where he wants to be."