Welsh finishes home career with win
Mary Green | Monday, February 10, 2014
Notre Dame bested Cleveland State, 204.5-94.5, Saturday in its final dual meet of the season while celebrating head coach Tim Welsh’s last meet at Rolfs Aquatic Center.
The team found a way to honor Welsh with a special performance of the national anthem that opened the meet.“The tuba on the diving platform, I’ve always wanted that,” Welsh said. “I’ve talked about that for years … and then a tuba shows up on the diving platform!”
Once the meet kicked off, the Irish (7-5-1) scored early and often against the Vikings (10-6). Notre Dame took first place in all but three events, and it swept the top three spots in the 100-yard butterfly and 100- and 500-yard freestyles.
Senior Frank Dyer delivered the day’s record-breaking swim in the 1,000-yard freestyle, in which he finished first and set a new school mark (9:11.93) in his final home meet.
Dyer, seniors Colin Babcock and Josh Choi, juniors Zach Stephens, Cameron Miller and Patrick Olson, sophomores Bogac Ayhan, Michael Hudspith and Andrew Jensen and freshmen Joe Coumos and Reed Fujan were individual winners for the Irish.
“When you get towards the end of the season, every meet is a celebration,” Welsh said. “Today was a celebration all day long. … It was fun, and it was competitive. The swimming part, inside the meet, was a great way to have our final dual meet and head on toward [ACC and NCAA] championships.”
However, the celebrations of Welsh’s 29-year career at Notre Dame stole the show throughout the meet. Each event kicked off with a short video of thanks and congratulations from his former swimmers and coaches, including Tim Kegelman, a 2007 graduate and the program’s first swimmer to compete at NCAA Championships, and Haley Scott DeMaria, a 1995 graduate and current Monogram Club President.
“I loved seeing the guys,” Welsh said. “It exhausted me emotionally over and over again. I’ve just been overwhelmed by the whole day. … I never even imagined anything like that.”
Irish Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick led off a ceremony during a break in the meet’s action that featured a video chronicling Welsh’s accomplishments while at the helm of both Notre Dame swim teams, along with more words of thanks from Babcock and Matt Tallman, the current associate head coach who will take over for Welsh next season.
“There is no better fit between a coach and a university than Tim Welsh and the University of Notre Dame,” Swarbrick said.
Welsh closed out his dual-meet-coaching career against Cleveland State, the team against which he coached his first dual meet in 1985 and one with which Welsh said Notre Dame has had a great relationship over the years.
With his final win against the Vikings in the books, Welsh said his squad will now focus its attention on preparing for ACC Championships, which run Feb. 26 to Mar. 1.
“We’ll be focused directly on championships,” Welsh said. “We’ll try to be technically proficient, faster every day. The bulk of the work will slow, so we’ll try to maintain fitness, but the extremely large volumes will slow down, and the focus on getting everything right every time will increase.”