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Men’s Swimming: Walsh inks four strong swimmers

Joe Meixell | Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The renaissance that has taken place at Rolfs Aquatic Center in the past two years is showing no sign of letting up, as the end of the recruiting season today brings Notre Dame one of its best classes in school history.

“[This is] probably the best class we’ve had to date since we got the full allotment of scholarships allowed,” assistant coach Matt Tallman said. “Our current junior class is probably our best class top-to-bottom and they’ll probably rival those guys and to have them both on the same team will be great.”

Ted Brown is a member of that vaunted junior class and has been a central factor in Notre Dame’s success this year.

“The past few years the freshman classes have been able to have an immediate impact on our team and our success so getting a solid incoming class is vital to our success,” Brown said. “I think it’s a testament to [head] coach [Tim] Welsh and assistant coach Matt Tallman for really working hard and getting quality, Notre Dame guys who want to take the swim team to the next level.”

Headlining the class of 2010 are Tyler Angelo of Las Lomas High School in Walnut Creek, Calif. and McKenzie LeBlanc of Plano East High School in Plano, Texas. Angelo is a sprinter who has already qualified for the 2008 Olympic Trials in the 200-yard breastroke. LeBlanc is a mid-distance freestyler who has qualified for the Olympic Trials in the 200-yard butterfly.

The other swimmers who have signed letters of intent are Bobby Navarre, a freestyle sprinter from Loyola Academy in Wilmete, Ill. and John Lytle of Clearfield High School in Clearfield, Penn., who also specializes in short-distance freestyle events.

“[Lytle is] another sprint specialist and, with his times, he and Bobby should both, in their respective states, contend for state championships this year,” Tallman said.

In addition to grabbing points in individual events, the sprinter-heavy class will help the Irish improve its team relays.

“One of our biggest things we’ve talked about the last couple of seasons is bringing in top sprinters because we have great distance guys,” Tallman said. “But distance swimmers usually aren’t that great for relays because they don’t have to swim as long.

“We’ve had some success with our guys … but trying to get a relay to the NCAA level will be another giant step to getting national recognition.”

It wasn’t until December 2002, when the University decided to fully fund all of its sports teams, that the men’s swimming team had its full allotment of scholarships. Since then, the Irish have recruited better with the ability to attract more top swimmers with scholarships.

“We’ve brought in a class that’s a little better than the class we lose every year, and that’s been our main focus,” Tallman said. “We plan on bringing in a better class each year, and there’s luck involved, but we’ve been getting more recognition around the country and as that’s improved so has our recruit interest.”

Since Notre Dame will lose 10 seniors to graduation next year, the class of 2010 will include more than just four swimmers, but NCAA restrictions prevent coaches from discussing unsigned prospects until they receive a letter of acceptance and make a deposit to the school.

“We certainly anticipate additions to what’s shaping up to be a great class, and we’ll have comments on those guys at an appropriate time,” Tallman said.