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Congratulations to the swimming and diving team

Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I know that it is highly unusual to receive a letter from a head coach at a rival university, but I felt compelled to share with you and your readers something about which you should all be proud – Irish Swimming and Diving. At the recent Big East Championships that ended this past weekend, your Irish men and women walked away with two Big East Conference Team Championships. For the Notre Dame women, it was their 13th straight Championship (13th overall). For the Notre Dame men, it was their second straight title and fourth overall team title. Both team wins were challenged at every turn. But the most exciting moment of the meet and one that will live in the lore of our conference’s sport history was the final race of the evening that gave a clear underdog Irish men’s relay team a win and the Notre Dame men the team title.

Let me recap the scene for you so that you know how incredible an event this last race was. At the end of the last individual event prior to the relay the Notre Dame men had a slim 3.5 point advantage over the Louisville men. The meet would be decided on the last relay. Notre Dame was a decided underdog. The Louisville men were seeded with a time (2:55.59) that was more than seven seconds faster than Notre Dame (3:02.86). In order to win the title, the Irish men would have to swim a school record time to have a chance. It would be uncharted territory for the Irish. Your Irish relay team was John Lytle, Danny Lutkus, Josh Nosal and Andrew Hoffman. At the end of the first leg, Lytle held the lead over Louisville by .31 seconds. Lutkus extended that lead by the end of the second leg to .52 seconds. Nosal still kept the lead, but Louisville narrowed it to .22 seconds, while the crowd at the IUPUI Natatorium went crazy. It was impossible to hear anything but the crowd as the swimmers for all four legs of the race went down the pool stroke for stroke. At the end, Hoffman held on to the lead and extended it slightly to out-touch the Louisville men by .32 seconds in a time (2:54.08) that was more than nine seconds faster than the Irish men had gone all season this year! At the end of the meet, the Irish men had pulled a conference victory out of the mouths of the Louisville Cardinals by the narrowest of margins in a race that will no doubt be the stuff of Irish Swimming and Diving lore for years to come.

Congratulations to the Irish Men and Women! You should be proud of them. Note: Only one Big East Conference team rivals the success of the Irish in swimming and diving – Pittsburgh. With 28 Big East Conference Championships between the Panther men and women, the third place Pitt team for both men and women this year will undoubtedly challenge the Irish down the road for the title. Swimming and Diving is alive and well in the Big East Conference!

Chuck Knoles

Head Coach

Pittsburgh Swimming and Diving

Feb. 24