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ND Swimming: Koppel to take a new role

Joe Meixell | Thursday, November 20, 2008

After tearing his LCL and a muscle in his calf while playing in a pickup football game, sophomore swimmer PJ Koppel had little hope of making further contributions to the team until next season. That was until Notre Dame coach Tim Welsh came to him with an interesting proposition.

“Coach asked me if I wanted to be the announcer for the next meet,” Koppel said. “Doing something like that really makes me still feel like a part of the team.”

At the request of Welsh, Koppel took over the announcing duties for the home meet against Purdue on Oct. 8 when the normal announcer, former Irish swimmer Louis Cavadini, was unable to do it.

“Coach told the team that I was going to be the ‘Voice of the Irish’ for the meet,” Koppel joked.

Koppel’s injury will keep him out of the pool for six to seven months, but that surely isn’t going to stop him from staying active with the team, even if it is from the sidelines.

“I really enjoyed announcing at the meet,” he said. “I also still go to practice almost every day and try to help out with coaching and other small things that I can do. Even though it’s less than I wish I could be doing, I’m glad I’m still able to contribute in some way.”

With that said, Koppel remains focused on getting healthy and making a return to the team next season.

“Hopefully before my knee is fully healed I will be able to start doing some light workouts in the water,” he said. “Once it is fully healed I plan on training a full workload all summer so that I can be back in good shape by next season.”

Welsh acknowledged that the team is going to really miss Koppel’s presence in the pool.

“He had been swimming faster than we had ever seen him swim,” Welsh said. “But he’ll be back and he won’t let the injury keep him down.”

Koppel has remained positive through this entire experience even picking up a few of life’s important lessons along the way.

“First, I learned that I am not a football player,” he said. “Also, right now I’m learning a lot about having patience with the recovery process and staying optimistic.”

Koppel will be at the meet cheering on his teammates when they face Ohio State at home on Friday night. However, it has not been determined whether or not he will be called upon again to resume his role as “Voice of the Irish.”