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Men’s Swimming & Diving: Wolverines dominate field at Stark Relays

Conor Kelly | Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Irish opened their season with events on consecutive days, taking second in both the Dennis Stark Relays and the first dual meet of the year on Oct. 14 and Oct. 15, respectively.

The Stark Relays featured Michigan, Oakland, Valparaiso and TCU, and the Irish took second place with 156 points. Michigan took first with 200 points.

The day started off well for the Irish as the 200-meter freestyle relay team of junior Christopher Johnson, junior John McGinley, sophomore Frank Dyer and junior Kevin Overholt won the first race of the day, posting a time of 1:22.01 that beat second-place TCU by almost three seconds.

The day quickly turned into a dominating one for Michigan, however, as the Wolverines took 10 of the next 11 races on their way to a first place finish.

For a team that features 12 freshmen swimmers and four freshmen divers, the Stark Relays were a much-needed learning experience, Irish coach Tim Welsh said.

“It was a very positive start for us, lots of positive excitement,” Welsh said. “It’s the beginning, not the end. As the season progresses we want to place higher, but I was happy with the results. For a lot of our team, this is something they’ve been looking forward to for over a year. There’s something special about swimming in the Notre Dame cap for the first time.”

On Saturday, the Irish faced off against a familiar slate of foes in a dual meet with Michigan, Oakland and TCU. Similar to the previous day, the Wolverines took first with three victories on the day, including a 174-119 victory over the Irish. Notre Dame finished at 2-1 with victories over the Golden Grizzlies (194-100) and Horned Frogs (174-126).

Dyer led the Irish with two gold medal performances in the 100-meter and 200-meter freestyle, turning in times of 44.57 and 1:37.92. Dyer’s mark in the 200-meter freestyle was the nation’s fastest this season. He was named the Big East Athlete of the Week in men’s swimming and diving Monday for his performance.

The Irish also took gold in the 1-meter springboard as freshman Nick Nemetz totaled 332.55 points.

“We did a lot of swimming in a 24-hour period,” Welsh said. “From Friday to Saturday we saw a lot of competitiveness and a lot of excitement. Especially for our young swimmers and divers, this was a great result.”

The Irish return to the pool Friday at Pittsburgh.

Contact Conor Kelly at ckelly17@nd.edu