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Not satisfied with historic victory, Irish push forward

Joe Meixell | Friday, November 19, 2004

In the minds of the Irish swim team, the historic win over Pittsburgh on Nov. 12 wasn’t the culmination of the season – it was just the beginning. The victory over the No. 17 Panthers marked the first time in the 47-year history of the program Notre Dame has beaten a ranked team, “We want to build on Friday, but we also want to start over. We don’t want to rely on it,” Irish coach Tim Welsh said. “We want to go out there and earn it all over again. We know what we want to do for the year, and we’re making great progress. But anyone who’s watched Notre Dame athletics this fall knows that you can’t take any success for granted until it’s final.”The Irish will get their first chance to follow up Friday’s performance when they travel to Louisville this weekend for a meet that will last two days and contain three sessions. Rather than participating in the same standard events as the previous four weeks, the teams will swim the same events as the NCAA championship meets, including three new races – the 200 freestyle, the 500 freestyle and the 400 medley.”This meet is valuable to us, because we swim all the events that we would at the NCAA championships, and in the same order,” Welsh said. “We’re in preparation for our own invitational meet here at ND the weekend after Thanksgiving, so this will also be a dress rehearsal for that.”The Notre Dame Invitational will be held Dec. 2-4 and will represent one of the most crucial tests of the season for the Irish prior to the Big East Championships.”This weekend’s meet will be an additional tune-up for the Notre Dame Invitational, because it will act as championship preparation for everyone,” Welsh said. “This unifies the squad, from a team point of view. From an individual point of view, it prepares each individual for their event in the upcoming invitational meet.”Though the Irish have next week in mind as well, they will look forward to taking on a strong Louisville squad.”Louisville is a much improved team this year, and we’re starting to build a good conference relationship,” Welsh said. “We are larger and deeper, though, and that should be to our advantage.”It has been that depth that has provided the Irish with an extra edge in all their meets this year.”What has allowed us to beat Pittsburgh, to beat Iowa, to challenge every team we face, has been the depth of this team,” Welsh said. “We scored 22 guys in Friday’s meet, and we’ll be taking the whole team down to Louisville and looking for a complete team performance.”The recent success by the Irish has them ranked No. 21 in the latest College Swim Coaches poll, marking the first time in 47 years that the team has been ranked.”It’s a giant step for the program, and it’s very exciting,” Welsh said. “It’s a measurement of our progress, but it also acts as an incentive. We know the only way we can stay ranked is to make it to the national championships and score in the top 25, something that has never been done in school history. “By itself, the ranking means nothing, but as an inspiration to progress, it’s fantastic.”