1996-97 Season Outlook
Head coach Tim Welsh enters
his 12th year at Notre Dame and his 1996-97 men's swimming and diving
team enters its second season in the BIG EAST looking to improve upon
its 1996 finish.
"Last year we were dead center in the conference,
seventh out of 13 teams," says Welsh. "We were pleased with our finish
last year but we think that we are capable of improving."
bring a very young team into the 1996-97 season with well over half of
the team comprised of freshmen and sophomores.
"We are a very young team
with 15 freshmen and only five seniors," says Welsh. "If we are going
to be fast, we will need our seniors to do a great job in leading us
because we do not have much experience on this team."
Senior Matt Rose
(Memphis, Tenn.) heads up this group of seniors as captain of the squad.
Rose made major improvements last year as he developed into the team's
top breaststroker with a pair of fifth-place finishes in the 100 (57.91)
and 200 (2:06.04) breaststroke at the BIG EAST championships.
his best year yet as a junior," says Welsh. "He has the trust and
confidence of the team, as well as the leadership skills as captain to
keep us focused."
Ry Beville (Chesterfield, Va.) returns to the team as
a fifth-year senior after studying abroad with the University's Japan
program. As a junior during the 1994-95 season, Beville became Notre
Dame's top butterfly swimmer in history as he set school records in both
the 100 (50.02) and 200 (1:50.33) butterfly.
"Ry Beville's return to the
team will be a major boost for us," says Welsh. "Of course he will help
us in the fly but also on our relays."
Senior Rich Murphy (Palisades
Park, N.J.) filled in well in the fly events last year and will be
needed for his ability to swim butterfly and freestyle events.
in the best shape of his career," says Welsh. "He is very versatile and
can race in almost every event. He knows how to race in the big meets
and understands the skill of racing."
Josh Saylor (South Bend, Ind.) is
another senior who will give the team depth in backstroke and butterfly
events. He swam in four different events last season for the Irish.
Junior Ron Royer (Rochester Hills, Mich.) returns to the pool this year
after upgrading his academic standing during the 1995-96 season. Royer
was one of Notre Dame's top freestylers as a freshman when he swam the
seventh-best 200 free and ninth-best 50 free in school history.
return to the team will be a big boost to our team," says Welsh. "He is
on a mission this year and has a big role to play."
when the two were seniors on the swimming team at Brother Rice High
School, junior Brian Najarian (Troy, Mich.) is one of the team's top
"Brian's role has enlarged each year he has been
here," says Welsh. "He did a great job in the sprint events last season
and there is room for him to continue to grow this year."
Cardwell (Marietta, Ga.) enters the 1996-97 season healthy after
battling through injuries last season during which he was able to
compete in only in seven events.
"Steve had a great finish to an
injury-filled season last year," says Welsh. "We are looking for him to
be a leader this year."
A first-year junior at Notre Dame, Peter
Clearkin (Cushendall, Ireland) comes to Notre Dame with swimming
experience in Ireland. The ST MacNissis College exchange student swam
in the Irish nationals in the sprint freestly events.
Welsh is counting
on the sophomores, who made major contributions as freshmen a year ago,
to continue to contribute to the team.
"That group of guys really came
in as freshmen and gave us clutch performances," says Welsh. "They will
do great again with the year of experience that they now have."
team's top freshman a year ago, sophomore Scott Zumbach (Katonah, N.Y.)
swam the four fastest times in Notre Dame history in the 400 individual
medley (3:59.91) and the fastest 1650 freestyle (15:47.50). He was also
one of the team's best performers at the BIG EAST championships with
three top-10 finishes in the 1650 free, 200 IM and 400 IM.
Zumbach is one of the swimmers who we are really counting on this year,"
says Welsh. "He did some great things for us last year and we hope he
Chris Fugate (Independence, Mo.) swam the fastest 100
backstroke (52.19) in school history last year on his way to his
sixth-place finish at the BIG EAST championships. The sophomore also
placed eighth in the 200 backstroke (1:53.55) at the BIG EAST
"Chris gave us some great results last year," says Welsh.
"He is such a committed swimmer and trained well this summer."
Whowell (Fontana, Wis.) should boost Notre Dame in the breaststroke
events as he did last season with his seventh place finish at the BIG
EAST championships in the 100 breaststroke (58.17).
"Steele did a
tremendous job for us stepping up into the 200 breaststroke from the 100
breaststroke," says Welsh. "He is a great athlete and competitor."
Sophomore Jeff Page (Louisville, Ky.) returns as the team's top swimmer
from 1996 in the 100 butterfly. Page also won three races in the 200
individual medley and should help out the Irish again with his solid
Welsh is also counting on sophomore Wes Richardson (Overland
Park, Kan.) who had six second-place finishes last year in distance
"Wes Richardson had a great summer after he broke his
collarbone this past spring," says Welsh. "He looks ahead of where he
was last fall despite the break."
Welsh is also excited about the
1996-97 freshman class which he feels could rival last year's freshmen.
"Our incoming freshman class is large and fast," says Welsh. "It also
includes some experienced divers. The freshmen will definitely
contribute points on the scoreboard especially in the shorter freestyle
events and the relays."
Freshmen Josh Cahill (Richmond, Ky.), Raymond
Fitzpatrick (Doylestown, Pa.), Brian Kolle (The Woodlands, Texas) and
John Steffan (Memphis, Tenn.) are expected to contribute in the sprint
Charles Bard (Flemington, N.J.) swam butterfly on the
YMCA national champion 200 and 400 medley relay teams and should help
out in fly events.
Antonio Fonseca (Greenville, R.I.), a four-time
all-state selection at Bishop Hendrickson High School, participated in
the 100 and 200 breaststroke at the 1995 and 1996 junior nationals and
should help out Rose in the breaststroke events. Fellow freshmen Kevin
McCluskey (Lima, Ohio), Michael Revers (Naperville, Ill.) and Bryson
Toothaker (South Bend, Ind.) should join in the breaststroke events.
Peter Mehok (Stamford, Conn.), a participant in the junior nationals,
should help out the Irish in the backstroke events.
(Lakeland, Fla.) was named both a swimming and academic All-American and
should contribue in the individual medley. Sean Casey (Little Rock,
Ark.) and John Lubker (Roswell, Ga.) should team together to give Notre
Dame depth in the distance freestlye events.
Welsh and second-year
diving coach Caiming Xie have a new and talented group of divers this
season, one the team's biggest areas of improvement. The lone returning
diver who will give the Irish a sound foundation, senior Rob Lambert
(Valley Forge, Pa.) won two diving events a year ago and placed 17th at
the BIG EAST championships.
Joining with Lambert and highlighting the
group of newcomers is freshman standout Herb Huesman (Cincinnati, Ohio)
who was a first-team All-American all four years in high school and
should give some immediate results in diving. He was a member of the
Junior Olympic champion team in 1994 and has competed individually in
the junior nationals on six occasions.
"Herb is a very experienced
diver," says Welsh. "He is among a more elite level of U.S. diving and
his presence will help out the other divers on the team. They will
train together and their improvement will be drastic."
Maertz (Laguna Hills, Calif.) and James McInerney (Bethesda, Md.) should
benefit from the tutelage of Xie and help Notre Dame in the future.
"With the addition of the freshman class and some strong divers, we are
really excited about our second year in the BIG EAST," says Welsh. "We
are looking for a winning season and with the balance we now have, that
is definitely possible."