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Men’s Swimming and Diving: Irish finish third at Stark relays

Henry Hilliard | Monday, October 14, 2013


The Irish dove into their 2013-2014 campaign with a pair of top-tier matchups this weekend by welcoming perennial national contenders Michigan and Auburn to the Rolfs Aquatic Center for back-to-back meets. Notre Dame (0-2) faced the defending national champion Wolverines (3-0), as well as Auburn (1-1), Cleveland State and Valparaiso on Friday in the annual Dennis Stark Relays followed by a tri-meet against Michigan and Auburn on Saturday afternoon.   

Notre Dame finished behind the seasoned Wolverines and Tigers in both contests. The Irish took third Friday with 174 points in the Dennis Stark Relays, finishing behind Michigan’s 190 and Auburn’s 186, and ahead of Cleveland State’s 120. Valparaiso (0-1) finished last with 82 points. Saturday’s meet saw the Irish drop both matchups, losing to Michigan 201-99 and Auburn 153-147. The matchup with Auburn was particularly tight, coming down to the 400-yard freestyle relay, the last event of the meet. 

“I was very pleased with the results of this weekend,” Irish coach Tim Welsh said.  We swam better [Saturday] than we did [Friday]. We raced tough and competed all weekend, the energy throughout both competitions was wonderful.” 

Despite its losses, the team produced two individual winners Saturday. Senior Frank Dyer, the first All- American in the team’s history, placed first in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 44.34 and junior Zach Stephens won the 200-yard breaststroke, touching in at 1:59.91. Dyer coupled his first-place finish with two runner-up finishes in the 200-yard freestyle and the 200-yard butterfly. Stephens finished second in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 55.59 and third in the 200-yard IM, clocking in at 1:49:43. 

On the diving side, freshman Joseph Coumos won the 1-meter and 3-meter boards, with scores of 328.25 and 354.90, respectively, in his Irish debut. Irish junior Nick Nemetz finished third in the 3-meter, while Irish freshman James Lichtenstein and Nemetz finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 1-meter for the Irish. 

The weekend’s events opened Notre Dame’s season schedule with a high standard of competition. Friday’s contest saw eight Dennis Stark Relays records broken, including two pool records, all by the Wolverines. In Notre Dame’s inaugural ACC season, the schedule is littered with some of the strongest teams in the country.

“We want to grow to become the best, and the only way to do that is by facing and beating the best,” Welsh said. “I thought this weekend served as a good measuring stick against some of the best teams in the country.”

Notre Dame will not have another home competition at the Rolfs Aquatic Center for another month, when Michigan State visits for a dual meet on Nov. 15. The Irish will be back in action on Oct. 25, when they face Air Force in a dual meet at the Air Force Aquatic Center. Notre Dame will spend fall break training in Colorado to prepare for the challenges posed by swimming at such high altitudes. 

“I expect that week to be extremely fatiguing,” Welsh said. “We have never trained at altitude before so the Air Force meet will be a whole different situation.”

Contact Henry Hilliard at rhilliar1@nd.edu