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Busy swimmers win one, lose one

Joe Meixell | Monday, January 23, 2006

The men’s swimming team came out of arguably its toughest weekend of the regular season with its pride wounded, but stronger for the experience.

Notre Dame, barely removed from a two-week training trip and three sessions of racing last weekend, traveled to Evanston, Ill. on Friday for a matchup against No. 16 Northwestern. The perennially stellar Wildcats trumped the Irish 172-128, handing the blue and gold their second dual meet loss of the season.

“It wasn’t so much disappointing that they beat us, but it was disappointing that we did not swim as well as a team as we could have,” co-captain Patrick Heffernan said. “They’re a good team – we knew it’d be tough to go there – but we were tired going into the meet and didn’t perform as well as we could.”

The meet was Northwestern’s sixth consecutive victory over Notre Dame. The two squads faced each other Jan. 14 and 15 in the 28th annual Dallas Morning News Classic. The Irish placed fifth out of six in the prestigious event, while the Wildcats took second.

Assistant coach Matt Tallman went with nine members of the team to the meet in Dallas while head coach Tim Welsh directed the rest of the squad in a 163-73 dual meet win over Evansville.

“We’re still pretty beat up; we had a couple good races early and Northwestern is a team, nationally, that for a couple years has been ahead of us,” Tallman said.

The team wasn’t about to leave the Land of Lincoln without doing some damage. Notre Dame’s Jay Vanden Berg continued his long-distance dominance by earning first in the 1,000-yard freestyle, while teammates Patrick Davis and Jace Hopper took second and third. Tim Kegelman grabbed the top spot in the 100 butterfly and Irish divers Michael Bulfin and Sam Stoner went 1-2 in both the one-meter and three-meter events.

Perhaps more indicative of the team’s capabilities was the way the Irish rebounded the next day at home against Cleveland State. The Vikings, now 10-4 in dual meets, beat Valparaiso the day before, but Notre Dame was able to come out much stronger and handle CSU 142-96.

“I think they were just able to see where they were on Friday and they rebounded well,” Tallman said. “We had kind of a loosen-up practice Saturday to work out the kinks and they seemed pretty comfortable in our pool.”

The Irish touched the wall first in nine of the 11 events. Jamie Lutkus set the pace for the squad, grabbing first place in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle and, as well as swimming on the winning 400 medley relay with Doug Bauman, Tim Randolph and Tim Kegelman. Ted Brown (200 fly), Bauman (200 backstroke), Patrick Davis (500 freestyle), and Michael Bulfin (three-meter diving) also took first place.

The busy weekend certainly won’t be the last for the Irish, who will race three sessions this upcoming Friday and Saturday in the Shamrock Invitational, not to mention the Big East Championship this February.

“It’s good preparation because at the Big East Championship we have seven sessions in three and a half days,” Tallman said. “Hopefully racing [Northwestern and Cleveland State] helps us at the end of the year.”