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Men’s Swimming and Diving: Squad dominates in diving portion of meet

Joseph Monardo | Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Notre Dame enjoyed a successful weekend at the Big East Championships in Louisville as all five Irish divers earned points for their team. The Irish (6-4 regular season) swept both events and took a 74-point lead over second place Louisville, the league’s reigning champion, heading into the swimming portion of the championships.

“What a grand performance,” Irish coach Tim Welsh said. “It’s gotten our Big East Championship meet off to a great start.”

Senior Nathan Geary placed first from the 3-meter board, leading the way for fellow seniors Wes Villaflor and Eric Lex, who finished third and fourth in the event, respectively. As a result of Geary’s victory, each of Notre Dame’s senior divers has at least one individual Big East title to his name.

“I was diving pretty well during the season,” Geary said, “but I never had a meet where it all came together like it did [in the Big East Tournament] on the 3-meter.”

Lex placed first from the 1-meter board for the other Irish victory and was named the League’s Most Outstanding Diver, a title bestowed on Villaflor at last year’s league championship. Behind Lex in the 1-meter, Villaflor earned a fourth place finish, and sophomore Ryan Koter placed sixth.

Irish diving coach Caiming Xie was pleased with his divers’ performances.

“Overall it was a great, excellent weekend,” Caiming said.

“The seniors did a good job taking leadership of really the whole team the whole year … They did great, fighting for every point during the meet.”

Caiming was named the Big East Men’s Diving Coach of the Year for the eighth time in his illustrious career, but only reluctantly acknowledges his feat.

“It’s okay, I guess,” he said, “but we don’t want to keep the awards for one person.”

Caiming’s selfless attitude rubs off on his divers, as it is clear that they are all competing for the team rather than for individual success.

“Cai is great,” Geary said. “You build a really strong bond with your coach. It was great to [perform so well] for him, for the team, for everyone.”

Welsh said he realizes how valuable a coach like Caiming can be to a team, especially after such a strong performance.

“We value the work that Caiming does as a coach,” Welsh said, “and [we are] very proud of what our divers accomplished.”

Having done their part, the divers must now wait for the swimming portion of the tournament later this week as Notre Dame tries to bring home the conference championship.

“We try and go out and just get as many points as possible for our swimmers,” Geary said, “because it is a joint effort to win the meet. At least we’ve gotten our swimmers excited.”