ND hosts Shamrock Invite
Mary Green | Thursday, January 30, 2014
Notre Dame returns to Rolfs Aquatic Center on Friday and Saturday for the ninth annual Shamrock Invitational. It’s the team’s first home meet since November and the second-to-last competition before ACC Championships.
The three-session meet follows the order of the NCAA Championships, albeit in a shorter time period. Each race counts as a timed final instead of having preliminary and finals sessions as at the three-day NCAA meet.
“[The sessions] are compact, but it is the same sequence as the NCAA meet,” Irish coach Tim Welsh said. “It gives us a sense of just reminding us what’s the order these events come up in, what does it feel like to go from this event to that event, to go from individual events to relays. It’s a lot of racing in a short time.”
Welsh said the condensed nature of the meet is one of its benefits in preparing for conference championships, where each swimmer can race in up to four individual and eight events total.
“All three sessions take place in just over 24 hours, so guys will swim a lot,” he said. “That’s one of the advantages of it: It’s a lot of swimming in a very compressed timeframe. It’s all pretty intense because, for most guys, these are going to be their [ACC and NCAA] Championship events, and I think that’s probably true for each of the teams.”
The Irish (4-5-1, 1-1 ACC) will host No. 25 Iowa and Missouri State at the meet.
Iowa (1-7, 1-6 Big Ten) placed second behind Notre Dame in its own Hawkeye Invitational in December, the two team’s only meeting of the season so far.
“Iowa is always good, always fast and always challenging,” Welsh said.
Missouri State (8-2, 2-0 MVC) also brings in competition with a strong, core group of swimmers, and Welsh said the meet’s format could give the Bears an edge this weekend.
“They’re good, and their front line is very, very good,” Welsh said. “The dual-meet scoring system [of the Shamrock Invitational] takes depth out of the picture, so the fact that Missouri State has strong lead swimmers gives them a great chance in this meet.
“I expect that we’ll have to race wall-to-wall in all 20 events, and that’s what we want to do.”
Incarnate Word, in its first year of Division-I swimming and diving, was supposed to round out the four-team field, but a flight cancellation will prevent the Cardinals from arriving in South Bend until after the meet commenced, so the team will not make the trip, Welsh said.
Notre Dame has not competed in their home pool since its 191.5-108.5 win over Wisconsin in a dual meet Nov. 16.
“We love our pool,” Welsh said. “We love racing here. We race well here. We usually have great crowd support, so we just love being back, and we think it’ll be a great weekend for us.”
The Irish will also honor their four seniors — Colin Babcock, Joshua Choi, Frank Dyer and Bertie Nel — in a ceremony prior to the Saturday afternoon session.
The competition kicks off Friday at 5 p.m. at Rolfs Aquatic Center and continues with Saturday’s sessions at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.