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Men’s Swimming: Irish hope to put winter practice to good use

Anne Loughery | Friday, January 21, 2005

After the team’s competition during break in Ireland was cancelled, the No. 21 Irish admit they were a little bummed.”It was a pretty big letdown,” captain Matt Bertke said. “We’re always looking forward to competition, but we understood the circumstances.”The host Ireland National Team was forced to call off the Jan. 8 competition after the facility sustained damage to its roof after a tornado.The Irish made the best of their trip to Ireland, taking on a training-intensive mentality. Sophomore Chris Zeches said the team’s training consisted of some of the toughest practices of the season.”We sort of used the trip to prepare for our meets in the upcoming weeks,” Zeches said. “But I think we’re reading to get some racing in.”Notre Dame will take off its training wheels this weekend to see how far the practice and hard work will take them. The Irish are set to host No. 14 Northwestern Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Rolfs Aquatic Center. Northwestern has already seen plenty of competition since coming back from winter break. Although the Wildcats fell to Arizona, they registered a win against Washington 253-79. Prior to the meet at Notre Dame, Northwestern will travel to Ann Arbor to take on No. 8 Michigan. Zeches expects that the time the team has spent on the road will take its toll on the Wildcats.”I think they’ll be tired, but they’ll also know that we’re ready so they’d best be on top of their game if they want to have a chance at winning,” Zeches said. Among the standouts expected to step up are sophomore Matt Grevers, who won both the 100-meter backstroke (48.94 seconds) and the 50-meter freestyle (20.10 seconds) in last week’s meet against Washington. The relay team of Kyle Bubolz, Matt Wever, David Kormushoff and Grevers also captured first place in the 400-meter freestyle relay, clocking 2:58.44.”They have a lot of superstars on the team,” Bertke said. “But we have more depth. If they take first place in an event, we can cancel out their win and go two, three, four. We expect them to swim fast, but we plan on swimming fast too.”