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ND leading after first day

Anne Loughery | Friday, February 18, 2005

Just two days into Big East competition, the Irish are already well on their way to a championship. After Thursday’s competition, the Irish have rocketed to first place with 302 points and a 54-point advantage over second-place Pittsburgh. This is the first time Notre Dame has ever finished a day in the Big East Championship in the lead. “We’re swimming at the top of our game and loving it,” coach Tim Welsh said. “This is all celebration of the great work we’ve done all season.”Tim Kegelman led the Irish effort Thursday night, winning the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 1:49.62 – just .14 seconds off from his own school record. He was the first Notre Dame swimmer to ever win the event at a Big East meet.Kegelman truly earned his first-place finish, said senior Matt Bertke. After surging to first place, the sophomore suffered an asthma attack midway through the race. Despite the setback, Kegelman managed to retain his position and finished in first place.”[Kegelman] has just been unbelievable,” Bertke said. “He’s been an inspiration for the whole team.” Later in the meet, Kegelman anchored the 200-yard freestyle relay and spurred the team to a second-place finish – Notre Dame’s highest-ever in the event – with 1:20.64. Pittsburgh claimed first place, winning by .09 seconds.Sophomore Ted Brown and freshman Jay Vanden Berg added to the team’s stellar performances, tying for third place in the 500-meter free with 4:26.82. Brown cut .06 seconds off of his school record with the swim. In the 200-yard individual medley, junior Jamie Lutkus finished less than a second behind Kegelman with 1:50.87 for fourth place. Freshman Andrew McKay finished in fifth place with 1:50.87 and senior David Moisan came in sixth with 1:52.31. Finally, in the 50-yard free, senior Frank Krakowski lead the Irish efforts in fourth place with 20.56, the fourth-fastest time in Notre Dame history. Sophomore Louis Cavadini was close behind in sixth place with 20.65. Thursday’s races were characteristic of the team’s high level of intensity the entire meet, Bertke said. “We’ve already had a lot of great performances and we’ve been strong in a lot of events,” Bertke said. “This is the start of a lot of great things.” Notre Dame had a strong start to the competition, breaking records in the 800-yard freestyle relay and the 200-yard medley relay for a second-place standing in the competition. In the 200 medley relay, the final event of the night, junior Doug Bauman and sophomores Tim Randolph, Kegelman and Krakowski finished in second place with a time of 1:30.12. Last year the same relay team finished fourth with a time of 1:30.12. The four also earned all-Big East honors for their performance. In the 800-yard free relay, the quartet of Bertke, Brown, sophomore Brian Freeman and Cavadini broke the school record by nearly two seconds with a time of 6:40.79, good for a fourth-place finish. Freshman Sam Stoner led the divers, qualifying fifth in the one-meter springboard with a score of 269.35. But despite the success the Irish have enjoyed, Welsh said the Irish remain mindful of the talent the other teams possess.”There are still two full days to go,” Welsh said. “There’s still a lot of game to play.”