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Men’s Swimming: Late surge earns squad victory

Chris Hine | Monday, November 6, 2006

With the scoreboard reading 124-121 in favor of Purdue heading into the final three events of Friday’s meet, the No. 17 ranked Irish men swimmers gathered around the pool for an impromptu team meeting.

“We told each other that this was our moment, our time,” senior Ted Brown said. “We knew we had to win those last events if we were going to win.”

The Irish answered the challenge.

Notre Dame (2-0) swept the last three events of the meet, lifting the squad to a 156-144 victory over No. 18 Purdue – the first victory for the Irish against the Boilermakers since 1966.

“We have great confidence in one another. This team really showed its competitive edge in that meet,” Brown said. “This was [head coach Tim Welsh’s] first time beating Purdue, so to come out on top was really special.”

The first of those last three crucial events was the three-meter dive. Purdue’s Steve LoBue, a national qualifier in both the three-meter and one-meter dives, had already captured first in the one-meter earlier in the meet.

Notre Dame, however, has a national qualifier of its own – sophomore Michael Bulfin. Bulfin (with a score of 315.00) edged out LoBue (308.70) in the three-meter to capture nine crucial points, while junior Sam Stoner captured third (303.22) to give the Irish the lead 133-131.

“The divers really stepped up today, and so did everybody else,” Irish associate head coach Matt Tallman said.

Next up was the 200-yard individual medley. Brown touched the wall .66 seconds ahead of Purdue’s Romain Marie to give the Irish the key victory, while freshman MacKenzie LeBlanc claimed fifth.

Even though Purdue grabbed second, third and fourth in the event, the scoring went 10-9 in favor of the Irish, preserving their 143-140 lead, heading into the final even of the meet, the 400-yard relay.

“Going into that next to last event, everything was still up in the air. Ted pulling out that victory in the 200-IM was huge,” Tallman said. “It made sure that all we had to do in the 400-relay was win.”

Freshman John Lytle, sophomore Jeff Wood, freshman Andrew Hoffman and senior Louis Cavadini sealed the victory for the Irish with a 3:03.83 time, two and a half second ahead of Purdue’s Craig Thompson, John Schmitt, Tim Watts and Eddie Kenney.

“I hate losing, but it was a great meet,” Purdue coach Dan Ross said.

Notre Dame claimed first in nine of the meet’s 16 events. Other Irish winners included junior Jay Vanden Berg in the 1,000-yard and 500-yard freestyle, Brown in the 200- yard freestyle, Wood in the 100-yard backstroke, Lytle in the 100-yard freestyle, and the 400-yard medley relay team of Wood, Lytle, senior Tim Kegelman and sophomore Sam Pendergast.

“This victory felt good because year in and year out Purdue has a solid team,” Tallman said.”

While the victory is nice, Brown said, the Irish have bigger goals in mind the rest of the season.

“Our whole focus is to keep training hard, and to be ready to race these dual meets in the beginning of the year,” Brown said. “But we also have to make sure we’re ready for the Big East meet later in the year.”