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Swimming: Irish strong in season’s first meet

Matt Lozar | Tuesday, October 7, 2003

Friday’s Dennis Stark Relays served its purpose for the Irish and the Belles.

Each Notre Dame team won all but one event as the Irish took both the men’s and women’s competitions. Saint Mary’s held its own against a field featuring five Division I schools.

On the women’s side, the Irish won 12 of 13 events and accumulated 257 points while Illinois State took second with 187 points. The only event the Irish didn’t win was the 1-meter diving.

“I thought it was good,” Irish women’s swimming coach Bailey Weathers said. “I really like what all the freshmen did. I don’t know if one person stood out.”

Weathers had at least one freshman on all of his relay teams except one, and used an entire freshmen squad in the 400-yard freestyle race. The Irish set six meet records.

Meanwhile, the Notre Dame’s men’s team won 10 of 11 events and lost only the 200-yard medley relay – when the Irish were disqualified.

The men set a few more meet records than the women at Rolf’s Aquatic Center with eight new fastest times. The two freshmen who competed for the men’s team, Louis Cavadini and Alan Carter, participated in three events apiece and were a member of six new Dennis Stark Relays records.

Competing against larger schools than they normally see, the Belles finished fifth out of six teams with 88 points. Saint Mary’s coach Gregg Petcoff felt satisfied that his team improved on last year when they earned 84 points.

“I thought we did really well. In comparison from year to year, we always try to do a little better,” Petcoff said. “Despite holding out [senior and co-captain] Maureen Palchak, we still had almost half of our times better than the previous year.”

Before the event, Petcoff talked about how he felt his 800-yard freestyle relay team could be successful. That group gave the Belles their best finish of the night in fourth place.

One swimmer who caught Petcoff’s eye was Katy Leibiedz, who set some personal marks after just three weeks of training.

“I was surprised that Katy Leibiedez swam so well. A couple of her splits were better than championship times,” Petcoff said. “It’s surprising that she is at this point in this season.”

With the next meet for the Irish not until fall break, Weathers knows what his team needs to work on after Friday night.

“I think we need to do some racing in practice. It’s more where we need to be,” Weathers said. “I don’t think racing in a relay meet is going to get us ready for Indiana and Tampa at the end of the month.”

Petcoff and the Belles don’t compete again until Nov. 1, so his team has a long time to get ready, and they have a number of things to smooth out.

“There are probably a lot of repetition things – breathing patterns, in and out of turns, the speed of relay starts,” he said. “We want to swim. We’ve thrown some new things [to the team] in that aspect.”