Men’s Swimming: Strong Big East tests Irish
By MEGAN FINNERAN | Tuesday, January 29, 2013
In 1983, Pittsburgh won the Big East title. Then it won again and again until 1993, when Villanova finally put a stop to the streak. By 2004, the Panthers had taken control once again, stretching their consecutive top finishes to an eight-year stretch that started in 1997. Between 1983 and 2004, all but three of the 22 Big East championships had gone to Pittsburgh.
Notre Dame had won none.
In 2005, the Irish finally won the Big East crown. The following year, they again finished victorious. In 2007, five points stood between the Irish and the top of the podium. In 2008 and 2009, they won the title back-to-back years, capturing the third and fourth for the program, respectively.
In 2010, when the current seniors were freshmen, Louisville took its first title. The Cardinals returned to the top again the following year.
“Louisville is always our toughest competition,” senior Chris Johnson said.
Last year, in 2012, the Irish swept the Big East. Notre Dame took top honors by winning the conference, current senior Bill Bass earned the title of Most Outstanding Swimmer, Tim Welsh was named Swimming Coach of the Year, current sophomore Nick Nemetz was named Diver of the Year and Caiming Xie won Diving Coach of the Year.
This year, the Irish return nearly all of last year’s successful competitors. Bass won two races at last year’s meet and has continued to lead the squad this season. Current sophomores Brennan Jacobsen and John Williamson also contributed top finishes to last year’s win.
Louisville, the most recent team besides the Irish to capture the Big East title, stands at No. 14 in the most recent polls. Notre Dame just dropped out of the top 25, falling from No. 20 after Saturday’s loss to Harvard.
Despite the recent loss tarnishing their undefeated record, the Irish look forward optimistically.
“As we get closer to Big East, training tapers off as we start resting,” Johnson said. “When the week of Big East comes, we are primed, rested and ready to go off.”
The Irish next compete at the Northwestern Invitational on Friday and Saturday before the Big East championships begin Feb. 27 in Indianapolis, Ind.
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