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Men’s Swimming: Wildcats pose biggest threat of year

Greg Arbogast | Friday, January 19, 2007

Coming off a quad meet victory that improved its dual meet record to 8-0, No. 20 Notre Dame will face the greatest threat yet to its undefeated record when it hosts No. 8 Northwestern this Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Rolf’s Aquatic Center.

The Wildcats boast their own undefeated dual meet record, having won all five of their contests. Their record includes a win over then-No. 18 Purdue. Northwestern also picked up first-place finishes in its TYR NU Invitational and last weekend’s prestigious Dallas Morning News Swimming and Diving Classic.

“They’re an excellent team,” Irish coach Tim Welsh said. “They haven’t lost in anything they’ve done all year, and they might be under-ranked. They could be the fastest team to swim in this pool since the late ’90s.”

In Dallas last weekend, Northwestern triumphed over a quality field that included No. 3 California, No. 10 Florida State and host Southern Methodist. The Wildcats finished with 359 points, besting Cal’s total of 334.

The Irish, however, have reason to be confident despite facing a quality opponent.

Last weekend’s defeat of Cleveland State, Xavier and Duquense gave Notre Dame its best start since the 1974-1975 season. Along the way, the Irish have defeated traditional foes Purdue, Michigan State and Pittsburgh.

Welsh said that the team is very excited about their potential this season.

“This is as good a start as this team has ever had, and we had a wonderful training trip between the semesters,” Welsh said. “We’re optimistic about how our season will end and how fast we can get.”

The Irish will likely need to be faster Saturday than at any other point this season. Despite their impressive record, Notre Dame has yet to face a team of Northwestern’s caliber. The Irish have competed in a dual-meet against a top-25 team only once this season.

“We want to measure ourselves at [Northwestern’s] level because that’s where we want to be,” Welsh said. “We want to come out of this meet and be able to say we’re improving. We’re swimming faster than we have all year.”