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Men’s Swimming: Swimmers travel to NCAAs

Mary Green | Wednesday, March 27, 2013

 

After nearly a month of preparations, Notre Dame will finally head to the IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis for the NCAA championships, which begin Thursday and conclude Saturday.

The Big East-champion Irish will bring a larger crew than usual. A record nine Notre Dame swimmers qualified to compete in the meet, bettering the previous high of two qualifiers set last season.

Five swimmers -
senior Chris Johnson, junior Frank Dyer and sophomores Cameron Miller, Zach Stephens and John Williamson – advanced to the meet with their respective B-cut times and will compete in individual events. Another quartet – sophomore Kevin Hughes, freshman Bogac Ayhan and seniors Bill Bass and John McGinley – will be eligible to swim in any of the five relays for which the Irish qualified, as will the former five swimmers.

Irish coach Tim Welsh said he was not surprised so many of his swimmers advanced based on the improvements he saw from his team since last season.

“We’ve been aware that the possibility [of advancing so many swimmers] existed and that the potential existed, and we’re very excited about what’s happening right now,” he said.

Welsh said he and assistant coach Matt Tallman especially noticed the developments in speed and strength of this year’s sophomore class, which will send four swimmers to Indianapolis. 

Stephens will race in the 100- and 200-yard breaststrokes and is seeded 16th in the longer event. He will also race in the 200-yard individual medley. Fellow sophomore Miller will compete in the same events, while Williamson will dive in for the 500-yard freestyle as well as the 100- and 200-yard butterflies. 

The other two individual qualifiers will also look for strong finishes this weekend. Dyer holds the best seeding for the Irish at 10th place in the 200-yard freestyle, and he will also head to the blocks for the 100 and 500 free. Johnson will swim in both breaststroke events, carrying the No. 13 seed in the 100.

Though his swimmers head to the competition with fast times and good seedings, Welsh said they will have to improve even more if they want to make a real statement against the field, which includes back-to-back champion California and perennial contenders Texas and Michigan.

“It’s a very fast meet, and if you want a second chance, you have to earn it,” Welsh said. “So it’s all about creating a second chance by doing a lifetime-best performance the first time out.”

With the training the Irish have put in throughout the year and especially in their tapering in the past month, Welsh said he anticipates a fast meet from this record-setting group of qualifiers.

“For us, it’s always all about going faster,” he said. “And we’ve had some very, very good practices here in this pool in the last month since we were at the Big East meet.”

Notre Dame will dive in for the first of three days of the NCAA championships Thursday at the IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis.

Contact Mary Green at mgreen8@nd.edu