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Men’s Swimming and Diving: Big East title meet is final hurdle of season

Matt Robison | Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Coming off a first-place performance in the diving portion of the event, Notre Dame looks to capture a Big East championship as it face the conference’s best in Louisville, Ky., starting today.

Capturing a share of the lead in diving is significant for the Irish moving into the swimming portion, which begins today.

Irish senior Eric Lex was named Big East Diver of the Year and Caiming Xie was named Big East Diving Coach of the Year.

“They just did a great job,” Irish coach Tim Welsh said. “We’re going in with a lead, and that’s a great thing.”

Welsh has been pleased with his team’s production this entire season, and the Big East championships are a chance to prove its mettle again.

“This team has been a real joy,” Welsh said. “It’s had energy, it’s had spirit, it’s had camaraderie, it’s has enthusiasm and at the same time, it has gotten faster meet after meet.”

The Irish finished second last season after winning titles in 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009. Notre Dame has only been a member of the Big East since the 1995-96 season and has finished in the top four the conference championships 13 consecutive years.

The championships stretch over four days with preliminary races starting at 10 a.m. each day and finals beginning at 6 p.m.

“There’s seven swimming sections left, we want to swim fast in all seven,” Welsh said. “Getting seven where you want them is a hard thing to do. So we know it’s a challenge.”

Today, the 800-yard freestyle relay and 200-yard medley relay finals will take place.

Thursday, fans will see the 500-yard freestyle, the 200-yard individual medley, the 200-yard freestyle relay and the 50-yard freestyle finals.

Friday will host the 400-yard individual medley, 100-yard butterfly, 200-yard freestyle, 100-yard breaststroke, and 100-yard backstroke, and 400-yard medley relay finals.

Saturday, there is a senior recognition ceremony shortly before the finals kick off. Saturday’s finals are the 1,650-yard freestyle, the 200-yard backstroke, 100-yard freestyle, 200-yard breaststroke, 200-yard butterfly, and 400-yard freestyle relay.

It is a potentially grueling four days, but Welsh is supremely confident in his team.

“If you look at the way the guys have been training, it’s been very consistent all year long,” Welsh said. “The preparation on their part has been excellent.”