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Men’s Swimming: Seniors lead ND to second in conference

Chris Allen | Thursday, May 13, 2010

When the swimmers and divers get back in the pool for the start of the 2010 fall season, they will do so with the knowledge that they have some mighty big shoes to fill. This year’s senior class, led by John Lytle and Andrew Hoffman, graduates as one of the most decorated and accomplished in program history.

“This is a very special senior class for me,” Irish coach Tim Welsh said. “I’ll remember just how much they’ve grown and how much they’ve contributed to the program over their time here. We’ve been through two extremely exciting Big East championships, including in 2009 when a relay team with Lytle and Hoffman on the first and last legs won the meet for us.”

The 2009 season finished with the Irish taking second place overall behind Louisville in the Big East championships. The meet provided a number of individual highlights that Welsh said will define how the season is remembered in years to come.

“Lytle’s 100 freestyle at the Big East meet was one of the defining moments of the season,” Welsh said. “The Big East is always a big deal for us, and the fact that our divers were able to perform so well the weekend beforehand, finishing one and two in both springboard events, well, that was probably our best performance of the year.”

The strong performance at the championships by individual swimmers and divers capped a year where the Irish finished with a 5-6 record in competitive meets. As the year progressed, the Irish saw increased contributions from younger swimmers, including a tremendous swim by freshman Bill Bass on the opening night of the conference meet. Bass set a program record with his time of 1:46.44 in the 200-individual medley.

Welsh said he was pleased with the development of Bass and all of his underclassmen swimmers.

“This year’s freshmen, we think, are very good,” Welsh said. “What I hope is that we will see them emerge. As a group they have enormous potential, and there is room for them to make a big mark with all the talent graduating.”

The competitive season also helped Welsh see leadership form among his junior class, a positive sign heading into the offseason.

“The rising senior class is a committed class,” Welsh said. “They have strong leadership. We have Michael Sullivan as a two-year captain leading the swimmers, and obviously [Wesley] Villaflor, [Nathan] Geary, and Eric Lex leading the divers. There are great leaders on both ends, and we saw that this season. We are very optimistic for next year.”