One could argue that our next ICON could be one of the most decorated athletes in Purdue history. He is a six-time National Champion, an Olympian, the reigning Big Ten Male Athlete of the Year, and next summer he will likely be one of the fresh faces of the 2012 United States Olympic Team. He even left Purdue with time on the table, as he chose to forego his senior season in order to train for said London Olympics.
For an athlete to reach this high on the ICONS list and not have the more broad appeal of football or basketball is remarkable. That is what David Boudia is: He's remarkable. With 374 votes Boudia is the #11 Purdue ICON, finishing just outside the top ten with plenty of time to add to his legacy.
When I was 11 years old I had my best youth league baseball season and played my first year of competitive basketball. Needless to say, this did not lead to a career in Major League Baseball or the NBA. In fact, I only played baseball for one more season and pursued basketball fervently despite a severe case of white man's disease. David Boudia began his diving career at age 11 in 2000. Born in Abeline, TX, his family moved to Noblesville and he began training as his star quickly rose.
By 2005 Boudia was a young member of the U.S. national Diving Team. That year he won the Speedo National Diving Championships Synchronized platform at age 16. He quickly withdrew from school and completed most of his high school courses through homeschooling in order to train. He started competing all over the world as he had an eye on the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
In 2007 he and diving partner Thomas Finchum earned the synchronized 10-M platform Bronze medal at the FINA World Championships. A year later he competed in his first Olympics, finishing 10th as an individual in the 10-meter platform. He and Finchum also finished 5th at the same height, just missing out on a medal. All this was accomplished before Boudia decided to attend Purdue, so by the time he came to West Lafayette we knew we were getting one of the best divers in the world.
Purdue has had a number of divers place well at the NCAA Championships over the past few seasons. Our program is one of the most respected in college diving, mostly because of the top notch Boilermaker Aquatics Facility. I have no doubt that this facility attracted Boudia, who came in and immediately became the most dominant diver in the Big Ten, if not the country.
Simply put, if Boudia was diving for Purdue, most likely everyone else was competing for second place that weekend. He was an eight time national champion before coming to West Lafayette, so there was little surprise of his dominance. As a freshman he quickly established new school records on all three boards (1-meter, 3-meter, and 1-meter platform). He was named the Big Ten's Diver of the Week seven times and won an astounding 21 consecutive diving events before teammate David Colturi edged him at the NCAA Zone C Diving Championships. Boudia topped his season by earning NCAA Diver of the Year and Purdue Male Athlete of the Year honors with National Championships (and NCAA records, for good measure) on the 3-meter and platform boards. On the 1-meter he was merely an All-American, and he won all three boards at the Big Ten meet as well.
As a sophomore in 2010 he had more of the same. He became the first American to top 600 points in six dives at the AT&T National Championships. He later won the 1-meter title at the NCAA championships, becoming the first diver in NCAA history to win a National Championship on all three boards over the course of career. He also repeated as the 3-meter champion, winning him NCAA Diver of the Year Honors once again. USA Diving named him their athlete of the year, as did Purdue for a second straight time.
This past year was sort of a victory lap for Boudia. He announced early on that he was going to forego his senior season in order to train for the London Games, and he wanted to become the first diver to win all three boards at the NCAA championships. A sweep would have tied him for the most NCAA championships in men's swimming and diving history. He was nearly perfect too. He won 30 of 31 events this past season, only finishing second only on the 10-meter platform to Nick McCrory of Duke. He won his second consecutive 1-metet title and third straight 3-meter title at the NCAA Championship, as well as yet another Diver of the Year honor. He is the first athlete to be named Purdue's Male Athlete of the Year and the first diver to be named as the Jesse Owens Big Ten Male Athlete of the Year. If there is a Big Ten diving record, Boudia owns it. Period
Prepping for London
Just after the NCAA meet in April Boudia official became a pro, and will dive later this summer at the 2011 World Diving Championships in China. He already has one of his first endorsement deals, as Coca-Cola selected him as one of eight American athletes to their "eight-pack" for next year's Summer Olympics. As the Olympics get closer Boudia will be one of the most visably marketed athletes in the country.
It is a great honor to have an athlete like Boudia associated with Purdue University. I expect he will represent his country next summer with the same dignity and class that he has represented Purdue with over the last few years. It is clear he was destined for diving greatness before he even came to Purdue, so I am thankful that we were able to borrow him for a short time before he headed back out to dominate world-wide competition.
David is an active Twitterer at the simple @davidboudia. Let's wish him well as he goes for some British Gold next eyar.