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Men’s Swimming and Diving: Irish excel and win Big East

Mary Green | Wednesday, May 15, 2013

With another year of experience and training under their belts, the Irish had one of the best seasons in program history, recording only one dual-meet loss, winning the final Big East championship and sending a team-record nine swimmers to the NCAA Championships in Indianapolis.

Notre Dame finished the regular season with an 8-1 record, including close wins over strong Purdue and Louisville squads in November, and suffered its only loss coming to Iowa at the Northwestern Invitational. 

In Indianapolis at the conference championship meet from Feb. 27 to March 2, Notre Dame scored a meet-record 991 points, 139.5 ahead of second-place Louisville, to capture its second consecutive league title. The Irish finished each night of the meet in first place, staying steady from day one to day four and displaying their depth. Thirteen swimmers and two divers picked up a total of 41 All-Big East Honors in 17 different events.

Irish coach Tim Welsh, who was named the 2013 Men’s Big East Coach of the Year, said earning the final league title was a memorable part of the year, but only one of several high points from the season.

“[The Big East championship] was certainly one of the highlights of the season,” he said. “I think that our mission from the university is to compete on a national basis, so it was also great having our largest team ever at the NCAA Championships, and to have two new people [John Williamson and Zach Stephens] score at the meet, both sophomores so they’ll both be back, and to have a relay team score.”

Williamson and Stephens both earned All-American honors for their swims in the 200-yard butterfly and 200-yard breaststroke, respectively. Williamson and Stephens represent part of a strong and still-improving sophomore class that claimed four of the team’s nine qualifiers.

Welsh also said the developments he saw this season, which showed during his team’s string of championship meets, proved that the Irish are ready to compete with some of the country’s best teams, especially during next year’s transition to the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).

“The concluding month was the month that kind of solidified in our minds the fact that we are ready to play at a national level,” he said. “We’re not hoping to get there anymore. We have to do the work and we have to improve every year and that’s what we ought to do, but it’s kind of solidified in our minds that when we do the work and when we improve, we will play at a national level.”

Contact Mary Green at mgreen8@nd.edu