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MEN’S SWIMMING: Team looks to snap Purdue losing streak

Kevin Brennan | Friday, October 28, 2005

Notre Dame has gotten off to a hot start in 2005, but the Irish have not yet encountered a team like Purdue – or a swimmer like Giordan Pogioli.

The squad will face its biggest challenge of the season Saturday when it travels to West Lafayette to take on the Boilermakers, as Pogioli has dominated breast stroke races in collegiate swimming for the past three years. The Purdue senior swam in the prestigious World University Games this summer. Notre Dame head coach Tim Welsh could not find enough good things to say about the Purdue superstar.

“He is on the USA swimming national B team, which means he is top 15 in the world,” Welsh said. “He is straight up very good.”

But Purdue’s talent extends beyond Pogioli. A national power year in and year out, the Boilermakers are No. 15 in the country heading into Saturday’s match.

“Purdue is a very good team,” Welsh said. “In my time here [20 years], we have not beaten them. We know that we have a challenge ahead of us going down there on Saturday.”

Notre Dame opened the 2005 season with two consecutive victories. On Oct. 7, the Irish hosted and finished first in the Dennis Starks Relays. And Oct. 21, the team defeated Texas A&M in its first head-to-head matchup of the season.

The early success gives the Irish a confidence boost heading into Saturday. “We’re building on the direction that we’ve established and we are eager to keep it going,” Welsh said.

“This is an eager group that’s headed for Purdue.”

on Saturday.”

A group of four young, solid divers will compete for Notre Dame. Sophomores Sam Stoner, Mike Maggio, and Chris Kane are coming off solid 2004 freshman campaigns. The foursome is rounded out by freshman Michael Bulfin, who was the team’s top-scoring diver against Texas A&M.

While the Irish will likely be at a deficit in the breast stroke races because of Pogioli, Notre Dame figures to hold a slight advantage in the distance freestyle events. Sophomore Jay Vanden Berg, senior Patrick Davis and freshman Jace Hopper have all had excellent starts to 2005.

While he knows Purdue will present a major challenge, Welsh is optimistic about Notre Dame’s chances Saturday.

“We’re going to go down there and swim the fastest we can swim, and dive the best that we can dive, and trust that if we do that, it will be a pretty good meet,” Welsh said. “We think we have as good a chance against Purdue Saturday as we have ever had.”