April 30, 2010
By Kelly Taylor
Sports Information Student Assistant
Not only does Notre Dame head diving coach Caiming Xie have 32 years of coaching experience, six separate honors as the top BIG EAST Conference diving coach, and numerous Chinese diving championships on the national level, he also recently traveled to China to coach the U.S. national diving team in the FINA World Series.
A very experienced coach on the international level, Xie (pronounced ZEE) is in his 15th season as head men’s and women’s diving coach at Notre Dame. The FINA Series encompasses a variety of water sports, including swimming, diving, water polo, synchronized swimming and open water swimming. The FINA Diving World Series began in 2007 in order for the world’s most talented divers to compete against one another on a more frequent basis. This year, the first leg of the series took place in Qingdao, China, on March 27-28.
The United States had seven divers participating in the meet. “Basically you invite the top competition from the World Championships,” Xie said. “Overall, the U.S. performed very well and it was very competitive.”
When asked if he finds a big difference between coaching collegiate athletes and coaching divers who compete at the national level, he claims it is fairly similar.
“A lot of the divers on the national team are graduates one or two years out of college, so they are like college kids themselves,” he said. However, the national team raises the stakes in terms of precision and talent. “With the national team, the dives are higher quality and have a higher degree of difficulty,” he said.
Although he was not able to work with the divers prior to the competition, it didn’t pose too much difficulty. “We meet the athletes at the airport in Chicago,” he said. From there, he begins to work with the divers individually. According to Xie, he acted as a team leader while also helping to coach the athletes.
After completing his time as an athlete with the Chinese national team, Xie began coaching right away. In terms of what he personally gets out of coaching, Xie notes how the sport of diving itself simply appeals to him. “Diving is a powerful and aggressive sport,” he said. “When you dive and hit the water, you have to be concerned with your speed, power, body alignment, toe point, flexibility, and splash. I’m pretty joyful when coaching because I love this kind of stuff.”
When it comes to the difficulties of coaching, Xie expresses his troubles regarding funding and recruitment. “There is a big recruiting war with diving, and it is especially hard at Notre Dame because our academic standards are higher,” he said. “Every year we have good divers who simply do not meet academic admission.”
Xie’s son, Tong, graduated from Notre Dame in 2003 and had a successful career on the Fighting Irish diving team. “He started diving at a late age, when he was a sophomore in high school, so he was at a bit of a disadvantage,” Xie said. However, he makes it clear that it was an enjoyable experience to coach his son.
Notre Dame holds a special place in Xie’s heart. “This is a very good university. I get along with the administration and there is so much athletic tradition,” he said. It seems as though Notre Dame has provided an excellent outlet for Xie’s coaching abilities.
Overall, Xie believes his work as coach of the Chinese national team from 1977 to 1990 to be his greatest accomplishment. Remarkably, Xie’s divers have earned medals at the Asian Games, World Cup, World University Games, and World Championships.
When he is not coaching, he can be found engaging in other athletic activities. “In the summer time, I like to play golf and tennis,” he said. However, coaching clearly keeps him busy throughout most of the year.
Not only has Caiming Xie sought success at Notre Dame, but he has crossed many international borders in order to coach some of the world’s most talented athletes. His work at the FINA World Series is merely another accomplishment on his long list of accolades. Xie continues to lead the Fighting Irish towards victory in the pool.
— ND —