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Men’s Swimming: Swimmers face West Virginia in final tune-up

Chris Doyen | Friday, January 25, 2008

Coming off losses last weekend to Louisville and Northwestern, No. 22 Notre Dame will try to capture a win Saturday in its final meet of the regular season, an important test before the Big East championships.

The Irish will face West Virginia in the Shamrock Invitational, a meet that coach Tim Welsh said will be special.

“This is an important weekend for the team for several reasons,” Welsh said. “It’s the last meet of the season prior to the Big East championships, and it’s the last home meet in this pool for seniors ever. It’s our last chance to get everything right.”

The Irish have competed against two other Big East schools in dual meets this season, notching a victory over Pittsburgh in November before dropping the meet against Louisville.

Last season, the Irish squared off against West Virginia, Oakland, Penn State and Connecticut in the Shamrock Invitational. The Irish posted a 2-2 mark to finish third in the meet, while the Mountaineers won, going 4-0.

Junior diver Michael Bulfin, along with sophomores John Lytle, Andrew Hoffman and Ross Moore, are some of the returning point scorers from last year’s invitational. Their experience, along with contributions from a large freshman class, should help the Irish in their attempt to avenge last year’s home loss to the Mountaineers.

The two teams also met at the 2007 Big East meet, where West Virginia, which ended its regular season undefeated, edged Notre Dame by 4 1/2 points to win the conference crown.

West Virginia has faced four conference opponents in dual meets this year and has compiled a record of 2-2 with losses to Pittsburgh and Louisville, and victories over Georgetown and Cincinnati.

Welsh thinks that Notre Dame’s schedule in the past few weeks should help the Irish against West Virginia.

“West Virginia is the defending champion, and Louisville has been the hottest team in the conference all season long,” Welsh said. “We will have seen them both in the last two weeks of the season. It’s good preparation for us, and it’s pretty exciting.”

This year’s Shamrock Invitational is a two-session dual meet, with the first session set to begin at 9:30 a.m. and the second at 4 p.m. Saturday at Rolfs Aquatic Center.