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Men’s Swimming: Irish finish regular season at home

Jonathan Warren | Thursday, January 26, 2012

Having won their past three meets, the Irish ride a wave of momentum into the home Shamrock Invitational. The meet, the last of the regular season, pits the Irish against No. 14 Iowa from the Big Ten.

The Hawkeyes defeated the Irish at the Iowa Invitational earlier this season. Iowa took second at the meet with a score of 723, while the Irish followed in third with 511 points. Irish coach Tim Welsh said the Irish and Hawkeye schedules could have an effect on how the matchup goes this time around.

“When we met at Christmas time, things were similar in that both teams were training before a break,” Welsh said. “But now, our Big East Championship is three weeks away, and their Big Ten Championship is five. Because of when our conference tournaments are, we could be at very different training levels.”

The Hawkeyes are coming off a win over Northwestern (178-120), who the Irish beat earlier in the season (157-143). The Hawkeyes rank in the top-10 nationally in three events: the 50-yard freestyle, 200-yard freestyle relay and 400-yard freestyle relay.

“Iowa is fast,” Welsh said. “They were a solid team and strong. They’ll be the strongest team we’ve seen this semester for sure.”

The Irish head into the rematch with Iowa hoping the momentum of a three-match winning streak turns into a better performance the second time around against the Hawkeyes.

“I think we have quite a lot of momentum,” Welsh said. “We swam well the past few weeks and have been building that momentum. Because it’s our last competition in this pool, we want to salute our seniors. We want to pay tribute to them with our performance.”

This meet marks the last time the Irish seniors will swim in Rolfs Aquatic Center. The seniors will be introduced as a team and one-by-one Saturday and will be featured in a video tribute.

“We want to pay tribute to what they’ve done here,” Welsh said. “They’ve been very loyal and spirited for Notre Dame. They’ve helped this team grow both athletically and personally across the board.”

In addition to being the last meet for the seniors, the invitational will also be a practice run for the Big East Championship. The invitational is a three-day event that goes through a full championship program in the same order as the NCAA championships. Welsh said to have a dual meet with a full championship program is unusual, but the Irish will use it to their advantage.

“It’s like a dress rehearsal,” Welsh said. “The NCAA championships is a three-day meet, so we modeled it after that.”

The meet will give Welsh and his staff a chance to assess his team one last time before the Big East Championship.

“We need to look at this meet and say ‘This is where we are, and this is where we need to be. This is what we like, and this is what we need to fix.’ It’s going to be a pretty thorough analysis.”

The three-day meet against the Hawkeyes begins Friday at 6 p.m. in Rolfs Aquatic Center.