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ND Men’s Diving: Led by Bulfin, Irish divers make their mark

Mike Gotimer | Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Although the Notre Dame men’s swimming and diving team has experienced its ups and downs throughout its 6-6 season, the Irish have seen remarkable consistency from its divers.

In four meets since the start of 2009, the Irish have yet to drop either the 1-meter or 3-meter diving events. Furthermore, the Irish have swept at least the top three spots in six of their past eight diving events, including two sweeps of the top-five and top-four spots.

Leading the way for the Irish is senior captain Michael Bulfin, who has placed first in five of his six events in 2009. He also ranks third and second in the Big East in the 1-meter and 3-meter events, respectively. Sophomore Eric Lex trails Bulfin with two first place finishes while junior Caleb Dunnichay has one win in the new year. With numerous strong showings at this point in the season, the Irish believe that they are on their way to accomplishing the goals that they set for the season.

“I developed some personal goals and team goals at the beginning of the season, and as a team, we have achieved most of our goals,” Bulfin said. “Going into the Big East championship, we will have an opportunity to check some more off the list. I think the team looks great right now and will definitely exceed people’s expectations. I personally would love to end my career at the NCAA Championships in College Station, Texas.”

One of the most impressive aspects of the Irish’s dominant stretch is the relative youth of the team. Of the Irish’s six divers, Bulfin and Dunnichay are the only upperclassmen. Along with Lex, fellow sophomores Wesley Villafor and Nathan Geary and freshman Sean Rademaker make up the contingent of underclassmen.

“It really hasn’t been a challenge to lead these guys,” Bulfin said. “They are all hard workers and come into practice with a good attitude everyday. It’s been easy being captain this year.”

The talent on the team fosters competition amongst them, as the divers are constantly shuffling their order according to the finish in meets. Bulfin believes that this competition has helped the team succeed.

“I think that one of the main reasons for the success of the team this year has been the level of competition in practice,” Bulfin said. “The guys on our team are very talented and when some of your biggest competition is right in front of you everyday, it really keeps you motivated to get better each practice. We are each others’ biggest fans and also our biggest competitors – it is a great dynamic.”

As the season approaches its end, the Irish diving squad does not plan to cool off.

“We have two or three meets left this season,” Bulfin said. “First we will head to the Big East Championships – we really want to take five of the top eight spots at this meet. It is a pretty high bar to meet, but I believe we can get it done.”

After the Irish compete at the Big East championships, they will compete in the NCAA Zone meet, which Bulfin thinks will serve as great experience for the younger divers. Finally, the team is looking to send one or two divers to the NCAA Championships at the end of March.