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Men’s Swimming: Squad earns split in season’s final home meet

Mary Green | Monday, January 28, 2013

 

In its last home meet of the season, Notre Dame split the Shamrock Invitational with a 279-69 win over Towson and a 264-100 loss to Harvard at Rolfs Aquatic Center this weekend.

Despite their first dual-meet loss of the season, the Irish (7-1) once again displayed their depth throughout the field against Towson (3-8) and Harvard (6-0). Irish coach Tim Welsh said he believes this versatility has been a strong point for his team this season.

“One thing that’s been clear all season and that was very clear this weekend is that we have a great deal of depth,” he said. “Our depth throughout the program is really strong … and that’s something that’s been characteristic of this team the entire season.”

During Friday’s opening session, senior Chris Johnson was the lone first-place finisher for the Irish, taking the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 54.17. Johnson also earned an NCAA B-cut with that time, which placed him in contention to advance to the NCAA Championships in late March.

Despite the lack of Notre Dame victories, the Irish swam well enough to accumulate points. In the 100-yard butterfly, junior Frank Dyer touched the wall third, and his teammates finished in nine of the next 11 places. Irish divers also demonstrated their strength in the one-meter event, where they nabbed spots two through seven.

On Saturday, Notre Dame collected two more individual wins, with victories coming from sophomores Zach Stephens in the 200-yard breaststroke and Kevin Hughes in the 500-yard freestyle. Stephens earned a NCAA B-cut and almost broke his own pool record in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:59.65, his second sub-two minute mark this season.

Welsh said he was impressed with how his team gained momentum throughout the weekend.

“We were solid throughout the meet and, even more importantly, we were better Saturday than Friday,” he said. “The fact that we carried well throughout the two sessions is better preparation for the championship meets ahead.”

For the team’s nine seniors, the Shamrock Invitational was their last chance to compete in a meet at Rolfs Aquatic Center. Welsh said this group’s contribution to the team in the last four years has been incredible.

“When this year’s senior class arrived their freshman year, we thought, ‘Oh my, we’ve got a really strong class here,'” he said. “They’ve been central to the huge, giant steps we’ve taken in last four years as a team. … It’s been a wonderful class, and they’ve been at the core of everything that’s happen in the last four years.”

Welsh said he remains confident as a result of his squad’s swims this weekend and is optimistic about its chances at the Northwestern Invitational, the team’s next meet.

“Throughout the depth of the team, we had season and lifetime bests taking place throughout the entire time,” he said. “I’m really encouraged by what we had taking place.”

The Irish will travel to Evanston, Ill., this upcoming weekend to compete in the Northwestern Invitational.

Contact Mary Green at mgreen8@nd.edu