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Men’s Swimming: ND hosts Big Ten powers

By Mike Ginocchio | Friday, November 15, 2013

After three consecutive weekends of competing on the road, the Irish return to the Rolfs Aquatic Center for a pair of dual meets against Michigan State and Wisconsin this weekend.

After such a long stretch on the road, it’s a welcome relief for Notre Dame (2-2) to be back competing at home, Irish coach Tim Welsh said.

“We’re happy to be home,” Welsh said. “It’s been a long four weeks for us, and it’s just great to be back [at Rolfs.]”

Notre Dame will open up the weekend against Michigan State (0-2) tonight.

In its most recent dual meet Nov. 8, Michigan State was surprised by Division II Grand Valley State, who beat the Spartans, 166-134, in East Lansing, Mich. Michigan State’s upset loss, however, doesn’t mean the Irish are in for an easy meet tonight, Welsh said.

“[Michigan State] swam faster against Grand Valley than [it did] against Iowa [in a 182-113 loss] earlier this season,” Welsh said. “We’re definitely not overconfident. Comparative scores don’t mean as much, but comparative times do. And what we know about Michigan State is that they’re quite balanced. Whatever they can do, they can do more than once, and they’re fast enough that, if we take it easy at all, they’ll be ahead of us with more than one guy.”

Welsh said that the meet events that will most likely be highly-contested are the 200-yard freestyle and the 100- and 200-yard butterfly races. With that in mind, the Irish will look toward strong showings from swimmers such as sophomore Michael Hudspith and freshman Trent Jackson, who swam a 1:41.29 and 1:41.54, respectively, in the 200-yard freestyle against Pittsburgh last Saturday. 

After they compete against Michigan State, the Irish will get right back into action with a meet against Wisconsin on Saturday morning.

“[Wisconsin’s] bringing in the national champion in the 200-yard backstroke [junior Drew TeDuits],” Welsh said. “They are a very well-travelled and a very experienced racing team. They’ve already raced against Georgia, California, Stanford … They’ve been on the road against many high-caliber teams. This is a very experienced team.”

Welsh said racing against Big Ten teams has allowed Notre Dame to compete with some of the top programs in the country.

“We swam against Michigan, we swam against Purdue, we’re going to swim against Michigan State and Wisconsin and later in the year against Northwestern,” Welsh said. “All of the Big Ten teams are strong. We’re expecting a heck of a challenge on Saturday.”

The Irish square off against Michigan State at 5 p.m. tonight and meets Wisconsin at 11 a.m. Saturday. Both meets will be held at the Rolfs Aquatic Center.

Contact Mike Ginocchio at mginocch@nd.edu