July 22, 2009

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame head diving coach Caiming Xie, who helped coach the United States divers at the World University Games in Belgrade, Serbia, recently returned to campus and shared his experience with UND.com.

How big of a thrill was it for you to represent the United States at the World University Games?
I was excited and happy to represent the USA and to coach in the University Games. For me, it was a wonderful experience.

How does this compare with past international competitions in which you’ve taken part?
This was more about country and team support than before. Every team stays in the universal village, which was bigger than normal. Our team was very close and always high in spirits.

Which event do you feel the team succeeded in the most at the competition?
The team gathered six medals with four individual and two team medals. I think the women’s team award – with the Mexican team finishing first, China finishing second, and USA finishing third – was the most successful. Russia, Ukraine and Canada finished close behind to make it a close event.

What were the particular teams strengths that stood out to you?
The team was able to gather three synchronization awards. That was impressive. Some countries would have a team that consisted of one person that was pretty good and others that were not so good. We were able to make two people look like one in the synchronization process, which isn’t easy.

Do you feel the team got stronger as the six-day competition moved along?
I certainly think so. The first day we earned two bronze medals and steadily improved. We started well, then so-so in the middle, and finished very strong in the end.

Which diver struck your attention with their performance at the event?
Ashley Karnes (Purdue) stood out, as she got a third-place medal in the women’s 1-meter event. She looked more comfortable and her confidence grew throughout the meet. She did really well in the semi-finals and in the finals.

How does coaching internationally compare with coaching at the collegiate level?
Coaching internationally with the USA team, the talent level is much better than college teams. But these are the top college divers in the nation and they have extreme talent and work hard to be successful. It’s hard to compare the two. There is more on the line when you’re representing an entire country as opposed to a single school.

With the abundance of talent on the team, were you more of a hands-on coach at the international level?
There was certainly a lot of hands-on coaching involved. I spent most of the time coaching the springboard divers who were working on their hurdle, balance and timing. It was hard in the short time of just several days to make big changes so I focused on smaller changes that were helpful to make a dive better, which involves more coaching than just guidance. It’s easier on the international level to coach because people have more talent and it’s easier for them to make corrections.

Overall, do you feel that the event was a success for the USA team?
Yes, it was a success when you look at our medal count and how well we competed. The USA diving team is going in a great direction and continues to be very strong in synchronization.