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Men’s Swimming and Diving: Irish start season with win in Stark Relays

Maija Gustin | Monday, October 11, 2010

The Irish earned gold in all but three races on their way to their first victory of the 2010 season over Oakland and Valparaiso.

The Irish hosted the 46th annual Dennis Stark Relays, where they earned 256 points to top the Grizzlies (190) and the Crusaders (120).

After suffering a loss in this same meet against Michigan in 2009, the Irish were thrilled to start the season with a win.

“We definitely had a better performance this year, and that’s something we’re happy about and excited to build on,” senior captain Mike Sullivan said.

The Irish earned gold in all but three races, including wins in the 200-yard freestyle relay, the 400 backstroke relay, the 400 breaststroke relay and the 400 free relay, which Sullivan called some of the team’s best performances.

Junior Marshall Sherman earned an early lead for the Irish in the 200 free relay and freshman Frank Dyer, junior Kevin Rahill and senior Thomas Van Volkenburg maintained the lead on the way to gold.

Sullivan himself propelled the Irish to a win in the 400 backstroke relay. Freshman Bertie Nel, Sherman and senior Joshua Nosal finished off the victory with a time of 3:04.98.

Sophomore Christopher Johnson, senior Joseph Raycroft, freshman Joshua Choi and freshman Colin Babcock out-swam the competition for another gold in the 400 breaststroke relay.

“We are deep in the back and breast events, so we expected to do well there,” Sullivan said. “But I thought our sprinters did a good job of stepping up and swimming fast in the 200 free relay, and the 400 free as well.”

The Irish also defeated the competition in the 400 medley relay, the 400 individual medley relay, the 400 butterfly relay, the diving relay and combo diving.

“The competition overall swam well in some of the longer events, like the 800 free relay and the 2 by 500 free relay,” Sullivan said. “There was some stiff competition in the middle and longer distance freestyle events, so that’s something we will remember when we have a dual meet against Oakland in a few weeks.”

The Grizzlies defeated the Irish in the 800 free relay, the 1,000 free relay and the 200 medley relay. Notre Dame earned silver in all three of those races.

“Oakland especially had standout freestylers, as well as some sprinters in the other strokes,” Sullivan said. “They always have some fast guys up top that we have to deal with in our dual meet, so we will have to swim well in order to beat them in two weeks.”

Overall, Sullivan said he was pleased with the result.

“Starting off this year with a win at the relays is definitely a good feeling, but at this point we like to look more at the actual team’s performance rather than the scoreboard. With the meet being so early in the season, it’s a good opportunity to see what sort of progress the guys are making and also what sorts of events they might be more comfortable in,” he said.

The Irish next face Big East rival Pittsburgh at the Rolfs Aquatic Center on Oct. 22.