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ND, Boilermakers square off at Rolfs

| Thursday, October 30, 2014

After a fall break full of trips and practices, Notre Dame looks forward to getting back into the pool when it hosts in-state rival Purdue on Saturday at Rolfs Aquatic Center.

Irish junior Cat Galletti swims during Notre Dame’s dual meet victory over Valporaiso on Nov. 11 at Rolfs Aquatic Center.Wei Lin | The Observer
Irish junior Cat Galletti swims during Notre Dame’s dual meet victory over Valparaiso on Nov. 11 at Rolfs Aquatic Center.
The Irish (2-3) traveled south to Georgia and Alabama on Oct. 17-18, going 1-3 in dual meets against Georgia Tech, South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Auburn in their latest action.

One of the Notre Dame’s strongest events so far this season has been the 200-yard medley relay, composed of sophomore Catherine Mulquin, senior Emma Reaney, senior Courtney Whyte and junior Cat Galletti. After qualifying for the NCAA championships last year, the team has won three times in the first month of the season, with a runner-up and third-place finish as well.

“Each one of them individually is proficient in their stroke,” Irish interim coach Tim Welsh said of the relay team. “They’re all great competitors, and they just make a good relay.

“What’s interesting about it is they are all really versatile. So we have actually taken those four girls and turned the order around, just to see what happened if they all swam different strokes — exactly the same time.”

Another team unit that has gotten off to a flying start this season has been the divers. The combination of juniors Lindsey Streepey and Emma Gaboury and senior Allison Casareto have totaled five event victories among them already, including sweeping the diving events in the season-opening meet against Michigan State on Oct. 3 and the Dennis Stark Relays, which Notre Dame hosted the following weekend.

“Our diving under [Irish assistant coach] Caiming [Xie] has been consistently strong,” Welsh said. “They work well together, and they work consistently. Caiming is always focused on how they can improve, so it’s been a very strong part of both the men’s and women’s teams for quite a few years.”

On Saturday, the Irish divers will go up against their counterparts from the Boilermakers (2-1), who are among the top in the country. Welsh said the diving events will be some of the most interesting competitions to watch Saturday.

Irish senior Courtney Whyte races in a backstroke event in Notre Dame’s win over Valporaiso on Nov. 11 at Rolfs Aquatic Center.Wei Lin | The Observer
Irish senior Courtney Whyte races in a backstroke event in Notre Dame’s win over Valparaiso on Nov. 11 at Rolfs Aquatic Center.
“If you wanted to look at Saturday’s meet and say, ‘If I’m going to see one thing Saturday, men’s and women’s, what would I want to see?’” Welsh said. “Probably the diving events. Our divers are excellent, the Purdue divers are excellent. Men and women, the diving show Saturday is going to be very, very good. Maybe the best diving we’ll see all year.”

While the diving has been excellent to start the year, the swimmers have been quick off the blocks as well. Although the season is still very young, Notre Dame has totaled 18 swimming event victories through four meets thus far. However, Welsh said he and his staff are still tinkering with the lineups.

“We spent a lot of the early fall trying to move the pieces around and to see where the best fits are,” Welsh said. “We’re just settling into what may be the strongest way to put our team together.”

That being said, Welsh said he sees a very good core group of girls for his team to build around.

“Obviously Emma Reaney is Emma Reaney, but the four girls who swim on the relay are all very good,” Welsh said. “Catherine Mulquin has had meets where she swims four events in the first hour — tremendous competitor.”

Welsh commented on how strong Whyte and Galletti have been for the Irish, and also mentioned senior Bridget Casey, the school record holder in the 200-yard butterfly, and sophomore Katie Miller, who competed in the 200- and 400-yard individual medleys, 200-yard backstroke and 800-yard freestyle relay at the NCAA championships as a freshman last year.

“We need to rotate around that core,” Welsh said.

When asked what he wanted to see out of the team in what he said was still early in the year, Welsh said his answer was very simple.

“Improvement — we want to look at where we were when we raced Michigan State at home — that was a month ago, and here we are a month later, so are we faster?” Welsh said. “The training in the last month has taken a giant step up. … They’ve worked hard, they’ve lifted hard. They were here all fall break. … They might not be as fresh as a daisy, but everything they’ve gotten so far, they’ve earned.”

The Irish will take to the pool against the Boilermakers on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Rolfs Aquatic Center.

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About Zach Klonsinski

A History graduate, Zach spent all four of his years on campus as a resident of Knott Hall. Hailing from Belgrade, Montana, he covered a wide variety of sports in his time at Notre Dame, including Football, Hockey, Men's Basketball, Men's Soccer, Women's Tennis, Fencing, Rowing, Women's Lacrosse and other events around campus. You can contact him in his post-graduation travels and job search at [email protected]

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