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Swimming and Diving: Irish finish seasons strong

Vicky Jacobsen and Joseph Monardo | Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Irish finished their seasons at the NCAA championships, the men at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion at Ohio State and the women at the University of Texas.

The men posted strong performances in both diving events, which were contested Mar. 10 and 11. From the 3-meter board, senior Eric Lex finished ninth while his classmates Nathan Geary and Wesley Villaflor placed 15th and 18th, respectively. Lex also led the Irish from the 1-meter board with a 12th place finish, while Villaflor finished 14th and Geary placed 19th. For the three Irish seniors, the performances at the NCAA Zone Meet signal the end of three great careers.

“Although we may have come up a little short qualifying for NCAA Nationals I think we all came close to reaching our full potential as divers,” Lex said. “We’re all pretty happy with the way our careers turned out.”

Despite Lex’s ability to appreciate the careers which he and his teammates have enjoyed while at Notre Dame, the 2011 Big East Diver of the Year has a lingering sense of disappointment as he looks back on his final diving meet.

“On the 1-meter board I was pretty disappointed with [my performance],” Lex said. “I didn’t really have the meet that I wanted. The 3-meter meet, which I ended up ninth in … I was somewhat disappointed, but having it be my last meet, I feel like I was fairly pleased with how everything went.”

Lex said making their inability to qualify for the NCAA National Diving Tournament a bit easier to swallow is the knowledge that the Irish divers were up against their hardest competition of the year.

“The Zone Meets far-and-away have the hardest competition we see all year,” Lex said. “It’s a combination of a lot of the Big Ten schools, who are predominantly known as diving powerhouses. It makes you better as a diver, but it’s also kind of intimidating, I would say.”

Purdue’s David Boudia captured victories in both the 1-meter and 3-meter events.

For the women, senior Samantha Maxwell concluded an impressive career and sophomore teammate Kim Holden made her championship debut this past Saturday at the NCAA Championship.

Maxwell came in 17th in the 100-yard breaststroke and 37th in the 200-yard breaststroke. Holden competed in three events, finishing 25th in the 100-yard backstroke, 46th in the 100 fly, and 23rd in the 200-yard backstroke event. Notre Dame did not earn any points for the team competition, which was won by the University of California-Berkley.

The trip marked the fourth NCAA appearance and last collegiate competition for Maxwell, a three-time All-American. She finishes her career with school records in both the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke events and a Big East Conference Swimmer of the Year award, which she earned last season.

Meanwhile, sophomore Jenny Chiang and senior Heidi Grossman finished the diving season at the NCAA Zone Diving Championships at Ohio State. Chiang came in 12th place in the 3-meter board competition and 14th in the 1-meter board, while Grossman came in 22nd in the 3-meter and 17th in the 1-meter competition.