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MEN’S SWIMMING: Irish eager for Invitational

Dan Murphy | Thursday, December 1, 2005

Historically, the Irish have succeeded at the Notre Dame Invitational, winning seven of the past 11 years. They will try to add to that total this weekend with the Invitational beginning today at 10 a.m. in the Rolfs Aquatic Center.

“This is our pool, we’re well rested, and we have the most depth of any team in the tournament,” Irish coach Tim Welsh said. “All of these things work in our favor.”

Notre Dame showed its ability to perform well at home in its last meet – a 203-92 win against St. Bonaventure – as well as at last year’s annual invitational where the Irish racked up a total of 2,709 points on their way to a first-place finish.

The meet is also a measuring stick for the swimmers, who hope to defend their Big East championship in the spring. As the last meet of the fall semester, the invite marks a midway point in the season, which can be used to show how far the team has come and where it needs to improve.

“Next to conferences, this is the biggest meet of the year,” Irish swimmer Tim Kegelman said. “This is the first chance we have as a team to show our competition in the conference what we can do in the water.”

Kegelman will be swimming the 100- and 200-meter butterfly races, as well as the 200-meter individual medley (IM) this weekend.

The competition for this meet, although not quite as impressive as the Big East Tournament, is a very strong western-based field. The teams coming to South Bend consist of six schools, along with an additional two that will be entering the diving competition only.

Among them are the reputable Division I programs of Wyoming (3-4) and Utah (4-1), as well as Division II powerhouses No. 5 Indianapolis and defending national champion Truman State.

The Irish, ranked No. 19 nationally, are confident they will be able to post quality times and are excited about the opportunity of replicating last year’s performance.

“We have been resting up for the past few weeks and have been swimming very fast in practice recently,” Notre Dame swimmer Ted Brown said. “We are expecting big things this weekend.”

One of the “big things” the Irish hope to accomplish is an impressive performance for the voters in the national swimming poll.

“Teams all across the country are swimming in some type of invitational this weekend, and the polling committee will definitely be looking at our results to see if we still deserve to be ranked where we are,” Welsh said.

Not only is the invitational important for the team’s position, but it also is a crucial meet for swimmers and divers to qualify for the Big East meet at the end of the season.

Typically the best times and highest diving scores of the year come from this type of a contest with its high level of competition and championship format.

“This is what swimming is all about,” Brown said. “You train hard all year for opportunities like this to show off in the water.”