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Men’s Swimming: Notre Dame falls to Northwestern

Joe Meixell | Monday, January 22, 2007

No. 16 Notre Dame was reminded why Northwestern is No. 8 as the Wildcats cruised to a 167-131 victory Saturday afternoon at Rolfs Aquatic Center.

Northwestern, led by senior Matt Grevers and sophomore Eric Nilsson who each picked up three victories on the afternoon, won 13 of the 16 events in the meet. Irish coach Tim Welsh – who predicted that the Wildcats might be the fastest team to swim in the Rolf’s Aquatic Center pool since the late 90s – was proven correct as Grever’s time of 1:45.12 in the 200 IM was a Rolfs Aquatic Center record.

“[Grevers] is one of the most outstanding swimmers in the country,” Welsh said. “He holds five pool records at our pool, and he’s only been here twice. It’s a good thing he’s only been here twice.”

Sophomore diver Michael Bulfin led the Irish with wins in both the one and three-meter diving. Bulfin spring-boarded his way to 317.77 points off the one-meter board and 346.80 in the three-meter competition. Freshman Andrew Deters, who swam a team and Big East season-best time of 15:39.88 in the 1,650-yard freestyle, garnered Notre Dame’s only other first-place finish.

While Notre Dame rarely finished first, the squad’s second place finishes kept the score tight. Senior Ted Brown took home two second place finishes for the Irish – one in the 200 yard freestyle finishing in 1:39.65 and the other in the 500 yard freestyle touching the wall in 4:33.96.

By picking up the second place points in 12 of the 16 events and third place points in 11 events, the Irish displayed their team depth. But their inability to touch the wall first was Notre Dame’s undoing.

“We knew going into the meet that [Northwestern’s] front line would be very fast and that the key to the meet would be our depth,” Welsh said. “We saw signs of progress all over the place, but the challenge is clear – our fastest swimmers have to be faster.

“Northwestern is exactly the opposite model of what we are. Their model is a 4-5-6 superstars model where as we focus more on depth. You can get it done either way as they’re showing, but we think that we’re headed in the direction.”

The Irish return to the pool next Friday for the Shamrock Invitational.