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Men’s Swimming and Diving: NCAA the main goal for Villaflor

Maija Gustin | Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Senior diver Wesley Villaflor trampled the competition at last year’s Big East Championships to earn gold medals in both the one- and three-meter dives, and he’s already on track to do the same this season.

But this time, Villaflor wants to take it to another level. He is working to qualify for the 2011 NCAA Championships as the Irish enter the second half of their season.

A native of Golf, Ill., Villaflor began gymnastics at an early age, but became bored with the sport. Everything changed when he started practicing his gymnastics techniques off of diving boards. Years later, it is has landed Villaflor as the top diver for Notre Dame.

Although his gymnastics background has aided Villaflor in his diving success, he has had to make adjustments in transitioning to a completely different sport.

“Although gymnastics helps a diver with ‘air sense’ and the flipping motions, the techniques of the two sports are very different,” Villaflor said. “It’s challenging for most gymnasts to make the adjustment toward more diver-like technique, but I was so young when I practiced gymnastics, my gymnastics techniques were not very strong when I began diving.”

Villaflor has been a tough competitor for Notre Dame this season, missing out on the top three in any competition only once. In the team’s most recent competition against Utah on Nov. 12, he earned silver in the one-meter and bronze in the three-meter.

Villaflor credits his ability to twist quickly while diving as his greatest strength.

“I tend to be a pretty fast twister, which allows me to add difficulty to the list I compete,” he said.

As Villaflor prepares for the rest of the season, which includes competing at the Iowa Invitational this weekend along with upcoming meets at Northwestern, Cleveland State and Michigan State, he is now working on perfecting his dives.

“I have learned all the dives that I need for the season, so now I will work on improving them and making them as consistent as possible,” Villaflor said. “I am currently working on fixing some bad habits that I have developed over the past few weeks, which will hopefully be back to normal in time for our invite this weekend.”

At the Big East Championships last season, where he earned top marks for the Irish program, Villaflor earned two of his career-best dives. He was also awarded the competitions Most Outstanding Diver award.

“Winning Big East was incredible,” Villaflor said. “It was really rewarding because there was good competition there. The most difficult thing about big diving competitions like that is it is so easy to miss one dive, which would put you out of the running for the top places. I was happy that I was able to put together a solid meet when it counted.”

Villaflor said he hopes to improve last season’s achievements with a trip to the NCAA Championships this March.

“My lofty goal for the end of the season is to qualify for the NCAAs, but I would really like to place in the top 10 at Zones [the qualifying meet for NCAAs],” Villaflor said. “I have been close, but yet to break into the top 10 spots.”

Regardless of the rest of this season’s events, Villaflor said he is proud to be representing the Irish for one last season. A marketing major, he has accepted a position with the Abercrombie and Fitch home office in Columbus, Ohio after graduation.

Villaflor and the rest of the Irish swim and dive squad will face Iowa, Denver, South Dakota State, Green Bay and Milwaukee and Ohio State (diving only) at the Iowa Invitational this weekend.