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MEN’S SWIMMING: Irish fall to USC in first meet of year

Joe Meixell | Tuesday, October 28, 2008

At least the Irish got their feet wet.

Notre Dame (0-1) dropped its first meet of the season on Saturday against USC (1-0), falling 159.5 to 126.5 at the McDonald’s Swim Stadium in Los Angeles, Calif. Irish senior Daniel Rave and juniors MacKenzie LaBlanc and John Lytle each won individual events.

Despite the disappointing start, Irish coach Tim Welsh relishes the opportunity the strong competition provides.

“Once again we’ve put together an extremely strong schedule which gets tougher and tougher,” Welsh said. “This one is as hard as we’ve ever had. All the challenges we want will be offered to us throughout the season. What’s exciting about this meet for us is that we have the opportunity to race again after several weeks of tough training.”

Rave finished first in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:08.94), while Lytle tied for first in the 200-yard freestyle (1:39.88) with Trojan Zoltan Povazsay, who represented his native Hungary at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Three Irish swimmers finished in the top four for the 500-yard freestyle – freshman Ryan Belecanech (4:42.33), junior Andrew Deters (4:44.02), and sophomore Steven Brus (4:45.52) earned points for Notre Dame. Deters (3rd, 9:39.44) and Balecanech (4th, 9:40.68) also finished in the points in the 1,000-yard freestyle.

Senior Jeff Wood placed second in the 100-yard backstroke (0:51.94), finishing ahead of sophomore Michael Sullivan (4th, 0:52.53).

Sullivan (1:51.61), Wood (1:53.58), and sophomore Joshua Nosal (1:56.03) all finished in the top four in the 200-yard backstroke.

LeBlanc (0:50.71) and sophomores Patrick Augustyn (0:52.47) and Chris Willis (0:52.76) all placed in the 100-yard butterfly. LeBlanc claimed first in the 200-yard butterfly (1:52.16), with Augustyn (1:54.20) and Willis (1:55.55) finishing third and fourth.

Deters (4:08.97), Brus (4:12.83), and Rave (4:19.47) all placed in the top four in the 400-yard individual medley to round out the swimming efforts.

In diving, senior Michael Bulfin, sophomore Eric Lex, and junior Caleb Dunnichay finished third, fourth, and fifth in the 1 meter dive to earn points for the Irish. Bulfin claimed second in the 3-meter dive, while Dunnichay and Lex placed fourth and fifth, respectively.

After the loss, Welsh was eager to see his team’s development produce results.

“We put ourselves through that training for meets such as these,” Welsh said. “After a great summer we’re looking forward to having some of the guys parlay their improvements into invitations to the [NCAA Championships]. We’re beyond the hopeful stage and into the expectation stage.”

Notre Dame will host Big East foe Pittsburgh on Friday, races begin at 5:00 p.m