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Men’s Swimming and Diving: Notre Dame takes down Spartans, Badgers

Henry Hilliard | Sunday, November 17, 2013

After a month of competition on the road, Notre Dame returned to the Rolfs Aquatic Center on Friday and Saturday for home meets, where they swept Big Ten foes Michigan State and Wisconsin in a pair of dual meets. The Irish (4-4) beat the Spartans 197-103 and the Badgers 191.5-108.5 and have won three of their last four dual competitions.
The weekend meets mark the first time the Irish have competed since Coach Tim Welsh announced his retirement effective at the end of the 2013-2014 campaign. With 29 years at the helm, the second-longest tenure of any Notre Dame head coach, Welsh will turn the reigns over to longtime assistant Matt Tallman.
“I hope the announcement puts a sense of urgency into everything we do,” Welsh said. “It makes every practice, and every workout exciting because my number of days left here is getting smaller.”
The squad dove into the weekend in commanding fashion, winning 11 individual events against Michigan State, including opening the meet with 10 wins in a row. Notre Dame set the tone early, winning the 200-yard medley relay with a time of 1:30.54. The team bested its individual event win total against Wisconsin, winning 12 more individual events to close out the weekend.
“Our performance this weekend was excellent. We love swimming at home and you could see that right away on Friday against a deep Michigan State team,” Welsh said. “The team swam very well across the board.”
All-Americans senior Frank Dyer and junior Zach Stephens, who have consistently been the top scorers for the team, bolstered Notre Dame’s performance once again this weekend. Against the Badgers, the duo won eight of the team’s 12 individual events. Dyer took home three first-place finishes Friday and took home four more top finishes for the Irish on Saturday. Stephens matched Dyer on Saturday, also bringing home four golds in the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke, the 200-yard individual medley and the 200-yard medley relay.
Dyer and Stephens led the way for a number of strong performances from all over the Irish roster.
“Saturday was a total team effort,” Welsh said. “Everyone raced very well individually and side by side as a team. I thought the best part of the weekend, though, was the morale. Our team spirit was the best I have seen this year.”
On the diving boards, freshman Joseph Coumos swept both the 1-meter and 3-meter against the Badgers on Saturday, and won the 1-meter on Friday. His performance included a career-best 381.52 points in the 3-meter board against Wisconsin on Saturday. Teammate junior Michael Kreft, who won the 3-meter board with 375.60 points, joined Coumos on the victory podium against Michigan State.
After the weekend sweep of the Spartans and Badgers, the Irish will have two weekends without competition for the first time since the season began eight weeks ago. The team is back in action for its 2013 finale at the Hawkeye Invitational on Dec. 6-8 in Iowa City, Iowa.
“We are really excited about this break,” Welsh said. “This past weekend allowed us to finish a month of tough racing on a high note, and now we have the opportunity to and focus on improving for the next stretch of the season.”
Contact Henry Hilliard at rhillia1@nd.edu