The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



ND Swimming: Men’s and women’s teams lead Big East Championships

Mike Gotimer and Molly Sammon | Thursday, February 19, 2009

Both Notre Dame’s men’s and women’s teams posted record-setting performances in the 800-yard free relay to earn the lead after one day of competition at the Big East Championships in Indianapolis.

The men’s relay team set a school and conference record with a time of 6:27.19, and the women’s relay team did the same with a time of 7:13.51. With 137 points, the men lead Pittsburgh by four points, while the women, with 80 points, have a 12-point edge over Louisville headed into the second day of the four-day meet.

The men’s relay team was deadlocked with Louisville after the first leg, but senior Danny Lutkus swam a strong second leg to give the Irish a sizeable lead. Sophomore Steven Brus and junior MacKenzie LeBlanc closed out the race for Notre Dame.

The Irish divers, led by senior captain Michael Bulfin, claimed second through fifth place in the 1-meter diving event. The event came down to the final dive, but Pittsburgh’s Alex Volovetski, who won the event by a score of 373.15-367.60, narrowly edged out Bulfin for first. Junior Caleb Dunnichay earned all-conference honors with his third-place finish, while sophomores Wes Villafor and Eric Lex rounded out the top five.

The men finished competition with a sixth-place finish in the 200 medley relay. The team of senior Jeff Wood, sophomore Joe Raycroft, junior Andrew Hoffman and sophomore Joshua Nosal finished with a time of 1:30.25. Louisville earned top honors with a meet-record time of 1:25.85.

“This was a great session for us,” men’s coach Tim Welsh said. “But we have to keep this up for seven sessions in a row.”

The women’s 800 relay team of senior Christa Riggins, junior Megan Farrell, sophomore Lauren Sylvester and freshman Amy Prestinario beat the second-place Louisville team by nearly four seconds.

The Irish also took first in the 200 medley relay, but by a much closer margin – .03 seconds, again over Louisville. The team of freshman Colleen Fotsch and sophomores Samantha Maxwell, Kellyn Kuhlke and Amywren Miller had a qualifying time that was a half-second slower than Louisville’s, but the winning Irish time set another school record.

“We’re off to a pretty good start, but you could tell we were a bit nervous out of the gate,” women’s coach Brian Barnes said. “Hopefully we can pull that out of them and get a bit more confident. But we came out of the evening with two wins and two records and that’s a good start for us.”

Competition continues at 10 a.m. Thursday, as the men try for their third title in four years and the women attempt to lock up their 13th consecutive conference championship.