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Men’s Swimming: Bulfin qualifies for NCAAs with record dive

Joe Meixell | Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Freshman diver Michael Bulfin became the third competitor in Notre Dame history to qualify for the NCAA National Championships March 10-12 at the Zone C Diving Championships at Ohio State.

His score of 634.40 in the three-meter board landed him fourth place in the meet. That score held up throughout the weekend, giving Bulfin a spot at the national meet to be held in Atlanta March 23-25.

“This was a joyous surprise,” Irish swim coach Tim Welsh said. “He works so hard. This year he’s been doing dives he has never done before and he’s improved so much.”

Bulfin’s fourth-place performance also ties the best showing of any Irish diver ever in any event at the meet, setting a school record in the three-meter dive.

After placing ninth in the preliminary round with a score of 311.20, Bulfin notched a score of 323.20 in the final round, vaulting him into fourth place and punching his ticket to Atlanta.

“Diving rewards consistency,” Welsh said. “In the finals, he did the same dives, he just did them better.”

The All-Big East diver also placed ninth in the one-meter board, while fellow Irish diver sophomore Sam Stoner placed 10th. Bulfin is one of only five divers from the Zone C region to qualify and one of 35 divers in the country to qualify for nationals.

“This is a great accomplishment, because the selection process has changed dramatically from the old days,” Welsh said. “In previous years, you just had to achieve a certain time, now it’s tougher because there are so few spots.”

Previous Irish national qualifiers include diver Bob Ebel in 1975 and current junior swimmer Tim Kegelman in 2005.

“This is also good because we’ve made our schedule tougher, and these other teams also have national qualifiers in diving,” Welsh said. “[My expectations for Bulfin] just went up, and that’s a good thing.”

Bulfin could not be reached by The Observer for comment Monday.