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ND Swimming: Purdue, Michigan St. return to South Bend

Dan Murphy | Friday, November 10, 2006

No. 17 Notre Dame looks to stay unbeaten this weekend with back-to-back home meets against Michigan State (0-1) on Friday and Big East power Pittsburgh (3-0) at Rolfs Aquatic Center Saturday.The Irish are coming off a thrilling victory last weekend over Purdue. The No. 16 Boilermakers were in good position until the final race, when Notre Dame captured the 400-yard freestyle relay to hold off the surging Purdue squad and move to 2-0 in dual-meet action this season. “We’ve had two very exciting wins so far. Both of them have gone down to the wire,” Irish coach Tim Welsh said. This weekend’s opponents are no strangers to drama, either. Pittsburgh has lost its last two trips to Notre Dame by a total of 11 points – 155-145 in 2004 and 122-121 last season. The Irish also needed final race heroics to hold off the Spartans last year winning 122-120. Senior Ted Brown starred in that meet, winning the 500 and 1,000-meter freestyle races. Brown churned out another clutch performance in the team’s most recent win over Purdue. Once again he took two races, including the 200-yard individual medley. The win, which came in the second-to-last race of the meet, gave the Irish nine points to retake the lead for good. This weekend the team will also need a big performance out of its two divers – sophomore Michael Bulfin and junior Sam Stoner. The two have averaged scores of 299.4 and 293.6, respectively, in their first three dives this season. The Panthers also have two strong sophomore divers to challenge Bulfin and Stoner. Aleksandr Volovetski has won the 100-meter event in every one of Pittsburgh’s meets this year and recently broke his own record with a score of 351 against St. Bonaventure Oct. 27.”Our diving is always critical,” Welsh said. “Pitt has two divers who are both very good, and when two out of 13 events are diving it’s pretty important.”Before that matchup, Notre Dame will have to get past Michigan State this afternoon. The Spartans lost to the Iowa Hawkeyes in their first meet of the season. The team got off to a quick start when Adam Schmitt, Sho Koba and Jason Vadney took the top three spots in the 200-yard freestyle.However, Iowa gained ground by taking the top two diving spots and held on for the victory.”We want to be faster than we were against Purdue, but we’re not going into this weekend with any expectations other than racing very well.” Welsh said.Welsh continues to keep his team focused on its ultimate goal – winning its third straight Big East championship and competing well at the NCAA Tournament. Despite the busy weekend, the Irish have continued to train intensely to stay on schedule for the postseason meets in February.