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MEN’S SWIMMING: Irish fall to Boilermakers

Joe Meixell | Monday, October 31, 2005

The No. 19 Irish fell to Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind. Saturday, as the No. 15 Boilermakers took advantage of an early lead to run away with the dual meet, 182-118.

After a strong team performance in the 200-yard medley to begin the meet, sophomore Jay Vanden Berg and junior Ted Brown put the Irish on top 30-25 with victories in the 1,000-yard freestyle and the 200-yard freestyle, respectively.

Higher-rated Purdue, however, came roaring back.

Purdue’s swimmers took the first place spot in the next three events and sandwiched three more wins around Notre Dame junior Louis Cavadini’s 50-yard freestyle victory to take a total of six of the next seven events.

Wins in the 500-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly helped put the Irish back within contention, but Purdue ended the match on a 58-16 run to earn the win.

“We got ourselves into a little bit of a hole a little early,” senior co-captain Patrick Heffernan said. “I think we weren’t racing where we did a week ago. The effort was there but just the times weren’t going our away.”

Notre Dame has never beaten Purdue during the Tim Welsh era, but after dominating the Dennis Starks Relays and taking down Texas A&M, the Irish were confident they could finally upend their cross-state rivals.

“We really thought we had a good chance to upset a team that was ranked higher than us – just from their times early last year,” junior Tim Kegelman said. “They swam better, and we didn’t swim up to our potential, so it didn’t make for the best situation.”

There were a few bright spots for Notre Dame at the meet.

Most notably, Vanden Berg continued his impressive start by ratcheting two victories on the afternoon, also taking the 500-yard freestyle.

“Jay Vanden Berg did swim fast overall, he’s been swimming fast all year, and he’s been solid winning those distance events,” said Kegelman, who got his first win of the season in the 100-yard butterfly. “Graham Parker also had a great breaststroke – he really stepped up in that one – and Jame Lutkus had a pretty fast 400 medley.”

The Irish have a week to recover from the loss before their matchup with Big East rival Pittsburgh this Friday. Notre Dame defeated the Panthers in meets twice last year, ending Pittsburgh’s run of eight straight conference championships.

“We’re heading into Pittsburgh, which is our biggest rivalry, so I think we’ll just bring a lot more intensity and a little more focus and we’ll just be better prepared to race,” Heffernan said.

Looking on the bright side, Kegelman said the loss gives the Irish motivation to work harder.

“We should definitely realize there are lots of places to improve and that’ll probably keep us focused during practice,” Kegelman said.