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ND Swimming: ND gets much-needed win over Pittsburgh

Joe Meixell | Monday, November 12, 2007

The Irish men’s swimming and diving team finally got the win they’ve been looking for – a 169-131 defeat of Pittsburgh on Friday to move their record to 1-3.

Meanwhile, the women suffered a defeat as the Panthers eked out a 150-148 victory.

The men racked up eight individual victories in addition to a first-place finish in the 200-yard freestyle relay en route to the win.

Sophomores John Lytle and MacKenzie LeBlanc came up big once again, combining for four of the team’s eight individual wins.

Lytle won the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 21.20 and the 100-yard freestyle in 46.50. He also was a part of the winning 200-free relay team along with sophomore Andrew Hoffman, freshman Joshua Nosal, and sophomore Ray Toomey.

LeBlanc’s victories came in the 200-yard fly (1:51.83) and 500-yard freestyle (4:36.87).

The other first-place finishes for the Irish came in the 200-meter freestyle (Nosal), 200-meter backstroke (freshman Michael Sullivan), 100-meter fly (sophomore Ross Moore), and 3-meter diving (junior Michael Bulfin).

The contributions from some of the younger members of the team have been bright spots all year so far.

“In the last couple of years, we’ve graduated a lot of upper-class leadership,” men’s head coach Tim Welsh said. “So it’s coming at the right time.”

The win marked the fourth straight for the Irish men over the Panthers. Their record against Pittsburgh under Welsh now stands at 4-4.

“It was a good win for the team,” Welsh said. “We had some good swimming and showed discipline, and we did a good job of staying focused.”

The women’s dual meet record now moves to 1-3 after losing to the Panthers in a meet that came down to the final race of the evening. Coming off their first dual meet victory last weekend against Purdue, the Irish were unable to turn that momentum into a second straight win.

The loss came despite that Notre Dame took first place in nine events. Senior Caroline Johnson and freshman Sam Maxwell continued their solid seasons with two individual wins apiece. Johnson’s victories came in the 100 and 200-yard backstrokes, while Maxwell came home first in the 100 and 200-yard breaststrokes.

The Irish swept the top three positions in both the 1,000-yard freestyle and the 3-meter diving. Junior Claire Hutchinson led the way in the 1,000 free, and junior Laura Rings continued to impress with a victory in the 3-meter dive.

In the last event of the night, the 200-yard freestyle relay, the top Irish team was disqualified. The Panthers swept the top three positions as a result and secured the victory.

The Irish had teams disqualified in three out of five relays as a result of swimmers diving into the pool before their teammate touched the wall, a problem that head coach Carrie Nixon isn’t worried about.

“At our meets, we don’t have the electric timing system, and at Pitt they do,” Nixon said. “They’ll have them at nationals, and we just need some adjustments. It’s an easily correctable thing.”

The Irish attributed the loss to the relay miscues, as well as the absence of a few top swimmers.

“It was a good meet for us, but the relays being gone and the fact that we left five of our best swimmers at home for academic reasons kind of put us in a hole,” Nixon said. “It was a hard loss, but we’ll get through it, shake it off and move on.”

The men and women will follow separate paths next weekend. The men will host Cleveland State on Friday, and the women will travel to Evanston, Ill., to take on Northwestern and Wisconsin Friday and Saturday.