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Men’s Swimming: Notre Dame begins quest for conference title

Megan Finneran | Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Every season presents an end goal that teams challenge themselves to achieve. For the Irish, that ultimate goal has finally arrived. 

Notre Dame begins its quest for a Big East title today at the championships in Indianapolis at the IUPUI Natatorium.

More than three weeks have passed since Notre Dame last swam in a competitive meet, but the Irish said the gap will not affect them.

“The fact that we haven’t had any meets doesn’t worry us,” senior Chris Johnson said. “The pool is the same length no matter where you are.”

The Irish closed the regular season on a high note, earning the 400th dual-meet victory in program history with a 191-177 win over Northwestern on Feb. 2. 

Johnson said beyond the most recent triumph, the squad also garners motivation from memories of last year’s Big East championships, where the Irish took the title for the fifth time in program history. Their 887 points topped the 859.5 points earned by two-time defending champion Louisville. 

This year the Irish enter as defending champions, but Johnson said the distinction changes little.

“Our mentality is that we’re going down to Indy to swim fast,” he said. “If we do that, the rest of our goals will take care of themselves. Being defending champs doesn’t really change that mindset.” 

Today marks the first event for both swimming and diving, beginning with the 1-meter dive. Divers need a score of at least 240 points to qualify for the “A” standard. 

On Feb. 2, sophomore Nick Nemetz won the 1-meter dive with 316.35 points, beating out divers from Missouri State, Iowa and Northwestern. Last year, Nemetz was named Diver of the Year at the Big East conference meet.

Today’s events also include the 800-yard freestyle relay and the 200-yard medley relay. The quartet of junior Frank Dyer, senior John McGinley, sophomore Kevin Hughes and senior Bill Bass makes up the top Notre Dame team for the 800-yard freestyle relay. The Irish ‘A’ squad for the 200-yard medley relay includes freshman Bogac Ayhan, sophomore Cameron Miller, Dyer and sophomore Zachary Stephens.

 “We all know what we need to do,” Johnson said. “Now we just have to go do it.”

The championships will begin at the IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis today at noon with the men’s 1-meter dive preliminaries. The consolation contest for the 1-meter dive will follow, and the finals and relay events will take place later in the day.

Contact Megan Finneran at mfinnera@nd.edu