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ND Diving: Irish dive into Big East Championships

Joseph | Friday, February 11, 2011

The Notre Dame diving team will head to Louisville, Ky., for the Big East championships this weekend, where the women’s squad will look to claim its 15th straight conference title while the men try to reclaim the title from the host Cardinals.

Coming off a season marked by significant and constant improvement, the men’s team will compete for the first time since the Shamrock Invitational in late January. Senior Wesley Villaflor placed first at last year’s Big East meet from both the one-meter and the three-meter board, but remains focused on executing in this year’s tournament.

“[We want to] really try to get each half-point we can and try to increase our scores by as much as possible,” he said.

Villlaflor is part of a trio of seniors that includes school-record holder Eric Lex and anchors the Irish diving squad. The upperclassmen will lead the rest of the male divers as they try to set the tone for the swimmers.

“[Last year,] each of us had one of our best meets of the year, so that really helped get the swimmers motivated, and I think that’s also really important this year,” Villaflor said.

On the women’s side, senior diving captain Heidi Grossman said the team worked this week to improve its six competition dives, ultimately mimicking the typical meet routine.

“We have just been trying to have great practices this week,” she said. “Every practice counts.”

Grossman said the divers hope to gain momentum as they open competition this weekend.

“As a team, I want our divers to do well so that going into the swimming portion of the meet next week, we already have a lead over all the teams in the Big East,” she said. “Personally, I want to dive well and end my season with my best meet so far.”

Grossman identified confidence as the key to a successful performance from the Irish.

“It is important to have confidence going into the championship, and not to get discouraged or worried because of a couple not so great practices,” Grossman said. “Even though it is a big meet, we have all done our dives hundreds of times before and know how to compete.”

The diving championships begin today and conclude Sunday.