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Men’s Swimming and Diving: Improved Irish place third behind Michigan, Iowa

Conor Kelly | Sunday, December 4, 2011

For most seasons, Irish coach Tim Welsh wants to see evidence of his teams’ times improving by the time the calendar turns to December. After this weekend’s Hawkeye Invitational at the University of Iowa, Welsh has already seen that and then some.

In a seven-team field, the Irish placed third behind just No. 1 Michigan and host-team Iowa.

“This is faster than I’ve ever had a team at Christmas-time,” Welsh said. “We are looking for improvement. That’s what the fall season is all about.”

Coaching a young team that boasts 16 freshmen, Welsh said he has been pleased to see his charges quickly acclimating to the collegiate level of competition.

“If you look at our fastest times going in and coming back from this meet, you see a huge improvement,” Welsh said. “We had a bunch of athletes who put up lifetime bests the last couple of days.”

As they have been all season, the Irish were led by sophomore swimmer Frank Dyer. After an average Friday meet during which he posted NCAA B-Cut times in the 50-meter freestyle and the 500-meter freestyle, placing eighth and third respectively, Dyer exploded on Saturday. The sophomore shattered the meet, school and pool records in the 200-meter freestyle. His time of 1:35.58 shaved just under two-tenths of a second off the previous Irish record set by John Lytle in 2009.

“Dyer is obviously our performance leader,” Welsh said. “What he’s been able to do at this level is quite incredible. Just like the rest of our team, he’s putting up better numbers at Christmas-time than he ever has before.”

Other top performances for the Irish were turned in by junior Christopher Johnson (second place in the 100-meter breaststroke) and the third-place 200-meter freestyle relay team of Dyer, Johnson and juniors Kevin Overholt and John McGinley.

At one of the fastest meets of the year, the Irish turned in an impressive showing that put them just behind two of the top teams in the country. The invitational marked the third time that Notre Dame raced against Michigan during the fall season.

Despite failing to knock off the Wolverines, Welsh said he is confident the experience against the nation’s best will benefit his young squad.

“Michigan is ranked first in the country for a reason,” Welsh said. “We’ve already raced them three times, and looking at their times, there’s no question that they’re faster. But that’s the level at which we want to compete. That’s what we want to do.”

The Hawkeye Invitational also marked the last collegiate action the Irish will experience in 2011, as the team will rest and regroup before heading to Costa Rica for the Copa Coqui in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Jan. 6.


Contact Conor Kelly at ckelly17@nd.edu