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Men’s Swimming: Bass leads ND to conference title

Megan Finneran | Sunday, February 19, 2012

For the fifth time in program history, the Irish return from the Big East championships as champions. In addition to the overall title, they also left the weekend with top individual honors.

Tim Welsh was named Coach of the Year and junior Bill Bass was recognized as the Most Outstanding Swimmer of the meet. Earlier in the week, freshman diver Nick Nemetz was named Diver of the Year while coach Caiming Xie was awarded Diving Coach of the Year.

The Irish took the title for the first time since 2009, finishing each day at the top of the standings. Their 887 points at the end of the four-day contest beat out defending champion Louisville’s 859.5, leaving Pittsburgh’s Trees Pool after a very successful weekend.

“We had a great last swim in the pool after the trophy ceremony with all the coaches, trainers and managers,” junior Chris Johnson said. “Everyone is quite happy.”

The team carried the momentum of strong finishes Wednesday and Thursday from the relay teams, Bass and sophomore Frank Dyer into the weekend.

On Friday afternoon Bass won the 100-yard butterfly, nudging in front of West Virginia’s Taylor Camp in the finals by .02 seconds to finish in 47.03. Bass bounced back to take the gold after finishing third in the preliminary race earlier that day.

The next afternoon, freshman John Williamson took the 200-yard butterfly, finishing in 1:44.74 and also coming back from a third-place preliminary time. He set both a school and pool record, shedding more than one second between the preliminary and final rounds. Freshman Brennan Jacobsen also grabbed a first-place victory, winning the 1,650-yard freestyle in 15:16.77.

The 400-yard freestyle relay team of Dyer, Bass, junior Kevin Overholt and freshman John McGinley took the silver in 2:55.42 and contributed valuable team points.

The team’s underclassmen had a strong showing, filling in key positions to gain points. Freshman Kevin Hughes finished second behind Jacobsen in the 1,650-yard freestyle, clocking in at 15:17.53. Dyer took third in the 100-yard freestyle in 43.22, freshman Zachary Stephens took third in the 200-yard breaststroke in 1:57.44 and Bass took third in the 200-yard butterfly at 1:45.60.

“I think there were some spots here and there that could have been better, but it’s hard to argue with a championship,” Johnson said. “We’re already thinking about next year.”

The team has a break for a few weeks before returning to competition for the NCAA championships. The three-day diving portion will begin March 9 in Bloomington, Ind., followed by the swimming championships March 22 in Federal Way, Wash.


Contact Megan Finneran at [email protected]