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Men’s Swimming: Notre Dame records historic day

By Mary Green | Thursday, February 28, 2013

Notre Dame got off to a quick start at the Big East championships at the IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis. The Irish scored 133 points in the opening day of the meet to put themselves in first place with a 95-point advantage over second-place Pittsburgh.

Though the first finals session included only three men’s events, Notre Dame saw no shortage of action.To begin the night, the 800-yard freestyle relay team of junior Frank Dyer, sophomore Kevin Hughes and seniors John McGinley and Bill Bass claimed second place with a time of 6:23.40. They finished behind first-place Louisville by 1.07 seconds. With that time, the Irish relay team broke the school record and also earned an NCAA A-cut to automatically qualify for next month’s NCAA championships. Irish coach Tim Welsh said the strong start sparked the Irish and set the tone for the rest of the evening.

“[I’m] fired up, excited and proud,” he said. “These were very strong performances to open the meet for us in both swimming and diving. We went from ‘Go Irish’ to ‘Way to go, Irish!'”

The winning momentum continued for Notre Dame as the meet moved from the racing lanes to the springboard. In the 1-meter dive finals, sophomore Nick Nemetz captured second place with a score of 310.05 and fellow sophomore Michael Kreft took fourth place with 300.35 points. With those scores, the pair joins the 800-free relay in qualifying for NCAAs.

But arguably the biggest moment of the night for the Irish came in the session’s final event, the 200-yard medley relay. The quartet of freshman Bogac Ayhan, sophomore Cameron Miller, Dyer and sophomore Zach Stephens sprinted to first place in 1:26.33. The relay set a new school record, earned an NCAA A-cut and claimed Notre Dame’s first title of the meet. The Irish had never before won the 200-yard medley at the Big East championships.

Welsh said that the two advancing relays contributed to a “very excited” atmosphere it the natatorium.

“We had thought that both relays did have a chance to qualify and that it would take strong swimming from everyone on each relay [to qualify],” he said. “Accomplishing that was exciting and motivating for all of us.”

The Irish will look to continue their streak of success today in the second day of competition. In the 500-yard freestyle, Dyer holds the No. 1 seed and is followed by seven teammates in spots four through 10. Notre Dame also hopes to swim well in the 200-yard individual medley with a team comprised of four swimmers seeded in the top seven. Dyer’s qualifying time in the 50-yard freestyle places him third in a close field and Notre Dame will also try to jump No. 1 seed Louisville in the 200-yard freestyle relay. Diving takes a day off and resumes Friday with the three-meter event.

Welsh said he thinks the strong results in all three events of the opening day will help the Irish continue their push toward claiming a second-straight Big East championship.

“They are ready to do very well, and tonight verified that for all of us,” he said. “[We’re] excited and eager to move on to tomorrow’s events.”

Notre Dame moves to day two of the Big East championships with prelims commencing at 10 a.m. today at the IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis.

Contact Mary Green at mgreen8@nd.edu