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Men’s Swimming: Individual records highlight strong team season

Joseph Monardo | Friday, May 20, 2011

Success manifested itself in the form of records, individual titles and annual awards for the Irish this year, but not in the form of a team title at the Big East championships.

Despite falling short of the team title, the Irish (6-4) exhibited a level of talent and an ability to improve that bodes well for future years.

“I think overall we had a great season in terms of progression,” senior diver Eric Lex said. “The coaches’ goal was to have two years progression in one year, and I think we definitely accomplished that.”

Under Irish coach Tim Welsh, Notre Dame had considerable success in the regular season, the highlight of which came on the final day at the Shamrock Invitational. In his final home meet, Lex secured first place and the school record from the 3-meter board by surpassing the 400-point mark for the first time in Notre Dame history.

Two weeks later, Lex highlighted what was a dominating performance by the Irish at the Big East Diving championships by taking first place in the 1-meter event. Senior Nathan Geary led the pack from the 3-meter board en route to a Notre Dame sweep of the diving portion of the meet. Lex was named the Big East’s Most Outstanding Diver, and Irish diving coach Caiming Xie earned the Big East Men’s Diving Coach of the Year award for the eighth time in his career.

In the swimming portion of the conference championships that followed, Notre Dame posted six new school records, but could not maintain a lead and finished second behind defending champion Louisville.

Freshman Frank Dyer captured the individual Big East title in the 500-yard freestyle with the best time in conference history before becoming only the second Notre Dame swimmer to ever compete in the NCAA championships. Dyer swam the 100, 200 and 500-yard freestyles, coming in 26th in the 200-yard freestyle, the highest finish ever for an Irish swimmer at the national meet.

The combination of returning veterans and talented underclassmen should raise expectations next season, senior swimmer Michael Sullivan said.

“We have great leadership and talent in place to make sure the team keeps improving, and although it’s not going to be easy to leave it, it is going to be awesome to watch this team get better in the coming years,” Sullivan said.