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Men’s Swimming & Diving: Irish prepare to face elite competition at Iowa Invitational

Jonathan Warren | Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Irish travel to Iowa City for the Iowa Invitational this weekend to participate in what will be the biggest meet of their season thus far.

“When this meet’s over, it’s like halftime for our season,” Irish coach Tim Welsh said. “You carry what you did in the first half into the second half. It’s like a final exam for us. We’ll take this exam to see how well we did this fall.”

The Irish will face strong competition from No. 1 Michigan and No. 10 Iowa, as well as Denver, Wisconsin-Green Bay and Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Michigan defeated the Irish 174-119 earlier this season.

“This is elite competition — very, very elite,” Welsh said. “If you look at national rankings, we’re talking teams at the very top. The Big Ten is always good. Iowa is at home and we’ve had very close meets with Denver over the years.”

In the midst of strong competition, Welsh said he will look for individual improvement rather than focus on final standings early in the season.

“What we need is for our guys to swim very well,” Welsh said. “We don’t look at it as a duel with other teams, but as how much we have improved this semester, and we’re hoping for a lot of improvement.”

The Irish are coming off a disappointing 191-109 loss to conference rival No. 16 Louisville and hope to perform at a higher level this weekend.

Sophomore Frank Dyer will try to continue his streak of first-place finishes at every meet this year, which includes wins in the 50-yard and 500-yard freestyle races against the Cardinals.

Freshman diver Michael Kreft will also bring momentum to Iowa City after having won both the one-meter and three-meter diving events against Louisville. Freshman Jimmy McEldrew is becoming a team leader after grabbing second place in the 1,000-yard freestyle and 200-yard backstroke against the Cardinals.

“To be honest, we need quite a few guys to break out this weekend,” Welsh said. “We race to determine how our conference squad will be formed, and this is the last chance for guys to earn a spot on that team. There’s a lot of excitement about how this weekend could develop.”

With excitement and pressure mounting around the Iowa Invitational, Welsh is confident his team is prepared.

“This meet plays a major role in our season. Because it’s a bigger meet, we’re making bigger preparations, just as you would for an exam,” Welsh said. “We’re getting half our grade this weekend, so we’re preparing.”

The Irish will look for improvement when they take to the pool Friday in Iowa City.

Contact Jonathan Warren at jwarren3@nd.edu