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Men’s Swimming: Irish fall at conference meet to Louisville

Chris Allen | Monday, February 22, 2010

After taking home the last two Big East championships, the Irish settled for second after Louisville prevailed Saturday at Trees Pool in Pittsburgh. Louisville finished with a score of 808 points. Notre Dame finished with 758 points, ahead of Pittsburgh with 535.

Though his team relinquished the title, Irish coach Tim Welsh was impressed with the team’s performance.

“We are very pleased with how the guys raced,” Welsh said. “There were a lot of season and lifetime best times posted at the meet. There’s a lot of fight in the Fighting Irish.”

The Cardinals bounced back from a tough defeat in 2009 at the hands of the Irish in which they lost on the last relay of the championships.

“The meet last year was decided on the very last race,” Welsh said. “There’s definitely been a rivalry these last three years at the Big East meet.”

The Irish were propelled to the second-place finish on the strength of several brilliant individual performances. Team leader and senior John Lytle finished second in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 43.56 seconds, losing to Cincinnati’s Josh Schneider, who put together a phenomenal meet that saw him set multiple Big East records. Freshman Bill Bass added a key swim in the 200-yard individual medley on Thursday, setting a Notre Dame record of 1:46.44 en route to a second-place finish. The opening relay of the meet saw seniors Lytle, Andrew Hoffman, MacKenzie LeBlanc and junior Steven Brus take home a first-place finish in the 800 freestyle relay, narrowly missing the school record with a time of 6:28.48.

“Bill Bass’s race was excellent, and John Lytle posted one of the fastest times in the nation in his event,” Welsh said. “Our relay in the 800 freestyle was also one of the fastest times in the nation this year.”

With the championships behind them, the Irish will now look forward to the rest of the swim schedule.

“The Big East meet is over, but the competitive season is not finished,” Welsh said. “Primarily, we will look for a chance to compete in the National championships. Not everyone will get a chance to do that, but the people with the best times will compete.”

The Irish will be back in action on March 4 at the Austin Grand Prix in Texas.