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Men’s Swimming: Making a splash

Maija Gustin | Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Irish closed out the first half of their season with a strong finish at the Hawkeye Invitational, where Notre Dame finished second behind host Iowa. The three-day event saw the Irish rack up 822 points, as they were aided by strong performances from a number of competitors.

In their last meet of 2010, the Irish dominated the event across the board, posting several meet and personal records in the process.

“The depth of the team really resonated all weekend long,” Irish coach Tim Welsh said. “The meet was very strong for us.”

The Invitational gave the Irish an opportunity to compete against non-conference opponents  Denver, Milwaukee, Green Bay, South Dakota and Ohio State were in attendance.

“Racing some different teams from other conferences was beneficial just to get a feel for what other times are out there beyond the Big East,” freshman Frank Dyer said.

The team hoped to put up its fastest times of the year to close out the fall season before transitioning into a mid-season break and a very competitive 2011 season.

“Coming into this meet we expected to have it be our fastest weekend of the year,” senior Peter Koppel said. “I think a lot of people still, though, exceeded their expectations.”

The Irish began the weekend on Friday by finishing third in the 200-yard freestyle relay. Dyer led the day’s competition, posting a meet record of 4:24.04 and earning first in the 500 free. Senior Mike Sullivan put up his best time of the year in the 200 individual medley with a mark of 1:50.85, good enough for second place

The Irish also had success in the three-meter dive, with senior Nathan Geary finishing third. Senior Eric Lex finished just behind Geary in fourth, and senior Wesley Villaflor and sophomore Ryan Koter earned fifth and sixth, respectively.

“The divers did a great job,” Welsh said. “We count on our divers. I thought their performance was very strong throughout.”

Lex earned a second medal on Saturday, earning third in the one-meter dive. Villaflor earned fifth, while Koter finished seventh.

Sullivan and Dyer continued their successful weekend on Saturday. Sullivan took home another second-place in the 400 individual medley, while Dyer earned second place in the 200 freestyle.

On Sunday, the Irish cemented their second-place finish. Dyer earned fourth in the 100 freestyle and joined junior Marshall Sherman, sophomore John McGinley and senior Thomas Van Volkenburg for a fourth-place finish in the 400 freestyle relay. Freshman Joshua Choi finished sixth in the 200  breaststroke.

The winning combination for Notre Dame stemmed from the experience of its seasoned swimmers and the enthusiasm of the freshmen.

“The same combination of age and experience, youth and exuberance that we’ve been enjoying all year was here,” Welsh said. “The senior class was excellent, and there was the flat-out joy of the freshman class.”

Given the many races over the course of the weekend, a number of Irish swimmers and divers had the opportunity to compete and all rose to the high level of the competition.

“We had people step up into performance levels that they haven’t done before, that we haven’t seen before,” Welsh said. “The team feeds on that.”

With a second-place finish under their belts, Notre Dame heads into a mid-season break before spending 10 days training in San Juan, Puerto Rico, after Christmas.