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Men’s Swimming: Captains flourish in leadership roles

Dan Murphy | Tuesday, January 31, 2006

One way to measure how successful a team will be is the attitude of the senior class – especially the captains. If Notre Dame’s 10-2 record and national ranking are any indication, this season’s leaders have certainly stepped up to the challenge.

This year’s captains, Jamie Lutkus and Patrick Hefernan, were selected out of a group of 10 seniors by their teammates in a vote last spring.

“I have complete faith in the process that we use,” Irish coach Tim Welsh said. “We have [had] a string of good captains in the past years, and this year is no different.”

Welsh said the main quality the Irish look for in a captain is the ability to communicate with both teammates and coaches. He added that it is essential each captain is well liked by his teammates but still a strong leader in and out of the pool.

The coach seems to have found the right men.

“Jamie is intense and really into the spirit of Notre Dame, while Patrick is more laid back and keeps us loose.” Irish swimmer Graham Parker said. “They provide a good ying and yang that keep our team balanced and together.”

However, the respect these captains earned from their coaches and teammates didn’t come easily. The captains say they have worked hard for many years to put themselves in the leadership roles they have today.

Lutkus, who competes in the breaststroke and individual medleys (IM), has been named to the all-Big East Conference team all four of his years at Notre Dame. He was also an All-American for three consecutive years in high school.

He currently owns the top six times in the 400-yard IM, as well as the second-best time in the 200-yard event, in the program’s history.

“[Being a captain] gives you an extra push,” Lutkus said. “It is important to lead by example because fast swimming can be contagious.”

Hefernan has also left his mark in leading by example the past four years. He ranks sixth all time in the 200 butterfly and was a part of a record-setting relay team during his sophomore season.

Lutkus continued by attributing Hefernan’s biggest asset to the team has been his unmatched work ethic and selfless sense of team.

This was evident early on when he was presented with the McManus Captains’ Award – given annually to the player who best exemplifies the word “teammate” – at the end of his sophomore season.

“I just tried to show up everyday to practice and do what I could to help the team achieve our goals,” Hefernan said.

Both Hefernan and Lutkus said they were “honored and excited” when they learned about their responsibilities as captains. They began filling their new roles as soon as the team arrived on campus.

“It was clear that they both had the ear of the team from the start,” Welsh said. “They have been good leaders throughout the year, but they still both have a lot they want to accomplish in the next month.”