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Men’s Swimming and Diving: Irish struggle against powerhouse Louisville, fall on the road

Megan Golden | Sunday, November 13, 2011

The inexperienced Irish struggled on the road against Louisville and fell to the defending Big East champions 191-109 Saturday. Notre Dame’s loss to the Cardinals at Ralph Wright Natatorium marks its worst loss of the season and third loss overall.

Irish swimmer and co-captain Marshall Sherman said he could sense a lack of energy among his teammates early on in the meet.

“Obviously, we have a lot of work to do. We had a few people step up throughout the meet, but we need everybody to step up and swim to the best of their abilities whenever they can,” he said. “I don’t want to say people started off sluggish, but they didn’t start off very well and took the energy out of us. It’s something to consider for the future, to not really let it determine the outcome of the whole meet.”

Louisville sophomore Kameron Chastain finished second in the 100-yard breaststroke and won gold in the 200-yard breaststroke. Chastain was also a member of the 200-yard medley relay team, which finished first at 1:29.29.

Notre Dame (4-3), which has been impressive early this season, struggled to keep up with Louisville.

“They have a lot of all-stars. That used to be where we would top them — in depth. They’ve become deeper than in the past. They have a lot of talent that we need to overcome in the future,” Sherman said. “Their breaststroke is probably their top [event] because last year in the Big East they had two or three guys ahead of [junior co-captain] Chris Johnson. Hopefully [freshman] Cameron Miller and Chris Johnson, can try and out them toward the end of the season — that’d be a huge boost for us.”

Prior to Saturday’s meet, Irish coach Tim Welsh said he was not looking for career-bests against the defending Big East champions, but he wanted to see progress from each swimmer.

Despite the loss, Sherman said he saw an improved Irish squad against Louisville.

“I would say there was definitely progress,” Sherman said. “There were season-best times but not career-bests. We had a few great swims out of people. Some people who won events for us were great. Some people were just swimming for themselves and the team, which is great to see heading into our Iowa meet.”

Irish sophomore freestyle swimmer Frank Dyer picked up gold medals in the 50 and 500-yard freestyle races, and freshman diver Michael Kreft added two first-place finishes in the one and three-meter dive events.

The 400-yard Notre Dame freestyle relay team of Dyer, freshman Zach Stephens, and juniors Kevin Overholt and John McGinley finished second, just over two seconds behind the Cardinals (3-1).

However, a less than satisfying overall showing against the team’s biggest out-of-state rival left the Irish with a bitter taste in their mouths.

“There is no question that Louisville is a power house, and with the talent they have and continue to bring in each year, they will be for a long time,” Dyer said. “That being said, there is no reason that we can’t give them a run for their money when February rolls around if we continue to focus throughout the rest of the season and train to win.”

Notre Dame will have another opportunity to face the Cardinals, when the two schools meet at the Big East Championships in February in Pittsburgh.

“We are very optimistic,” Dyer said. “A lot of guys have not reached their in-season potential yet and are possibly waiting for that breakout swim to get them going, but I think everyone is still very focused. We will be able to rebound from this loss and have a chip on our shoulder the next time we race Louisville.”

The Irish will return to action on Dec. 2 at the Iowa Invitational.

 

Contact Megan Golden at mgolde01@saintmarys.edu