During the planning meeting for the B1G 2016 series, it was decided that Thursday would be a good place to talk about non-revenue sports (other than PU football). I was relieved, since it gets old writing about how the football team is playing / has played / will play in the future.
So let's talk about some of the success that the diving program at Purdue has had, since you will be rooting for some Boilermakers this summer in the Olympics.
Let's start our talk about diving with a current Boilermaker, Steele Johnson. Johnson is a sophomore, who is a taking a year off in order to train and compete in the Olympics. In his freshman season, he managed to win the National Championship in both the 1m Springboard and Platform events. I'm no diving expert, but that seems pretty impressive to win two different events, including one I would consider the "high dive".
Johnson has also competed and done well at many national and international events. He is a 13-time junior national champion, and a 10-time senior national champion (I'm not sure what that means, other than he is a winner). Johnson also competes in the synchronized diving competitions with fellow Boiler David Boudia. They recently placed third at a FINA World Series of Diving Event in China.
Don't be surprised if Steele Johnson qualifies for a spot on the Olympic team in the trials, held in Indianapolis in June. If he dives up to his potential, he will be in the individual and synchronized events in Rio.
David Boudia has been winning diving competitions for a long time. He competed at Purdue for three years and managed to win eight national titles. He is the only diver ever to be selected as the Big Ten Jesse Owens Athlete of the Year. He also swept all three diving events at the Big Ten championships twice, which is really good.
But all of his collegiate accomplishments pale in comparison to his performance at the 2012 London Olympics. Thirty-two divers competed in the preliminary event in the platform competition, and 18 of them advanced onto the next round. Boudia had a pretty bad day, but managed to get enough points to place 18th. Boudia was able to shake off the bad start, and dove as well as a person could dive in the finals. He beat the highly favored Chinese divers and won the gold medal, the first for an American diver since 2000. Not content with just one medal, Boudia also took home the bronze in the Synchronized event. His partner was not Steele Johnson at this point, since Johnson was just a kid four years ago.
As Head Diving Coach at Purdue, Adam Soldati has turned the Diving team into probably the best sports program at the school. Soldati graduated from Indiana University, but knew that IU was just a stepping stone to much larger success at Purdue. He has been named the NCAA Diving Coach of the Year four times, and has won the Big Ten version of that award seven times. In addition to Boudia and Johnson, Soldati has coached a number of Purdue divers to All-American status. He's not just successful on the men's side; Casey Matthews won the NCAA Championship in the 1m Springboard event in 2013.
I certainly don't know much about diving, or coaching diving, but it is pretty impressive that Soldati can recruit Olympic level divers to Purdue (not that West Lafayette isn't exciting or anything) and coach them up to reach their potential. I'm not sure how much Soldati is paid, but from a pure results standpoint, he should probably be the highest paid employee at Purdue.