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Men’s Swimming: Seven wins propel Irish past Air Force

By Mary Green | Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Before Notre Dame and Air Force met on the gridiron on Saturday, the two schools met in the pool, with the Irish scoring a close 134-128 win over the Falcons on Friday at the USAFA Natatorium in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The Irish (1-2) had a swimmer place in the top two spots in all but two events and notched victories in seven individual events and a relay against Air Force (6-2).

“We swam with great heart,” Irish coach Tim Welsh said. “We trained at altitude and then went up even higher to compete at the Air Force Academy, but we raced really well. Across the meet, the races were very good. And we won a lot of those races, especially in the first half of the meet, because I thought we just had great heart, great energy, great spirit and great competition. I was very happy with that meet.”

Making its first trip to Air Force in 11 years, Notre Dame opened the dual meet with a win in the 200-yard medley relay, completed by sophomore Bogac Ayhan, junior Cameron Miller, senior Frank Dyer and junior Zach Stephens in 1:30.88.

Sophomore Michael Hudspith nabbed the first individual victory for the Irish, winning the 200-yard freestyle in 1:42.91. Senior Colin Babcock and junior Kevin Hughes followed Hudspith in third and fourth place, respectively.

Notre Dame also placed three swimmers in the top four spots in the 100-yard breaststroke. Stephens took first in 56.02, while Miller finished in 56.32 for second place, and junior Pat Olson seized fourth in 1:00.08.

“We’re quite balanced in most of our events, and we have two, three or four guys who are swimming close to one another, which is a great competition factor,” Welsh said. “But I think in the meets, one of the ways you can look at it is first place is offense; two, three, four, five are defense. And it matters to us to play good defense. 

“Against Air Force, more times than not, we had three of the five [scoring places], and across 16 events, that does make a difference.”

Freshman Tom Anderson earned his first collegiate win with a victory in the 200-yard backstroke, hitting the touchpad at 1:53.02. Anderson’s victory was the second individual win for any Irish freshman this season. Freshman diver Joe Coumos finished first in the 3-meter dive in a double-dual meet against Auburn and Michigan on Oct. 12.

“Tom’s a very good swimmer, and we knew that coming in,” Welsh said. “He’s a great trainer, he’s a great racer, and I think as his career advances here at Notre Dame, we’re going to count on him more and more and more.”

Also finishing in the top spot for the Irish were Ayhan in the 100-yard backstroke, junior John Williamson in the 200-yard butterfly and Dyer in the 50- and 500-yard freestyle events.

The win capped off Notre Dame’s weeklong fall break training trip to Colorado. They practiced at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, where they trained in the long-course, 50-meter pool. The team also did some sightseeing in the Rocky Mountains and attended the Irish football game Saturday, Welsh said.

“The training trip was wonderful, and it was wonderful in every aspect,” Welsh said. “The practices were spirited; they were good; they were hard; they were aggressive, so we were very happy with those. And everything you see on the grounds [of the U.S. Olympic Training Center] is very inspiring.”

With their first dual-meet win under their belts, the Irish will next dive into action against Purdue on Friday in West Lafayette, Ind.

Contact Mary Green at [email protected]