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ND doubles win total in last home meet

Mike Gotimer | Monday, January 26, 2009

The Notre Dame men’s swimming and diving team doubled its win total for the season with a sweep in the Shamrock Invitational at the Rolfs Aquatic Center this weekend.

The Irish improved to 6-6 on the season with wins over Denver, Michigan State and West Virginia.

The wins were a big lift for the Notre Dame squad, which had yet to earn a win in 2009 entering the weekend.

“The meet tonight was extremely good for the team,” Irish coach Tim Welsh said after the final session on Saturday night.

Although the Irish defeated both the Spartans and Mountaineers by more than 90 points, the Irish needed four victories in their last two sessions to seal a 10 point win over Denver. The clincher came when the Notre Dame relay team of senior Jeff Wood, juniors John Lyttle and Andrew Hoffman, and sophomore Joshua Nosal finished first in the 400 freestyle relay, out-touching Denver by just over half a second.

“What we’ve been looking for all season is a meet where we could take a giant step and these three sessions have helped us do that. We talked during today’s break about how the meet would come down to the last relay, so we prepared for that. But it only got that far, because everybody stepped up big time, which made this a giant step for our team.”

Coach Welsh was pleased with the team’s strong effort, which he viewed as excellent preparation for the Big East Conference Championships in February.

“In terms of preparation, we told the team that we couldn’t imagine a better preparation for a conference championship than to have a three-session meet over every event in the conference championship come down to the last event. So we think win, win, win all the way along.”

Notre Dame recorded three additional first place finishes on Saturday prior to its thrilling win in the grand finale. Wood fought off Denver senior Daniel Vollmer in the final lap of the 100 backstroke to seal the win with a time of 50.94.

Sophomore Andrew Deters also found himself in a close race in the 1650 freestyle, defeating Denver freshman Clayton Myers by eight-tenths of a second in a race where the top two finishers came in nearly 20 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. Sophomore Michael Sullivan had Notre Dame’s fourth win of the day, finishing over two seconds ahead of the field in the 200 backstroke, while Wood and sophomore Christopher Wills finished third and fourth, respectively.

In Friday night’s opening session, the Irish recorded three wins in six events. In the first event of the night, the Irish team of Lyttle, Hoffman, senior Danny Lutkus, and junior David Anderson took first place honors in the 200 freestyle relay. Lyttle finished first once again in the 50 freestyle with a time of 20.86 while freshman Kevin Rahill finished second with a season best time of 21.06.

Notre Dame continued its string of impressive diving performances, as senior Michael Bulfin, sophomore Eric Lex, and junior Caleb Dunnichay finished in the top three spots. Bulfin broke his own school record on the one-meter board in his final dive at home.

Notre Dame returns to action with a friendly swim against Saint Mary’s and Olivet on February 7 at the Rolfs Aquatic Center.