Feb. 8, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - On a day in which Notre Dame won 13 of 16 events over the Cleveland State Vikings, it was head coach Tim Welsh who was center stage for the Irish. For the final time, Welsh, clad in his traditional suit and tie, took the pool deck at the Rolfs Aquatic Center as the head coach of the men's swimming and diving program.
Welsh, who announced his retirement earlier this year, has been at the helm of the program for 29 years. Welsh began his tenure at Notre Dame in 1985 as the head coach of both the men's and women's programs. Under Welsh, the Irish squad has entered onto the national stage. Under his tutelage, Notre Dame sent a record nine swimmers to the NCAA Championships last year and the Irish recorded their highest finish at the NCAA Championships in 2012 when the Irish tallied 15 points and finished in 28th place.
Throughout the meet there were numerous tributes to Welsh, including messages from former student-athletes and coaches, and the national anthem was even performed with a tuba, something Welsh has always hoped for at a meet.
The meet versus Cleveland State brought Coach Welsh's tenure at Notre Dame full circle as his first dual meet at Notre Dame was against Cleveland State on December 8, 1985. Ironically enough, Cleveland State's head coach at that meet in 1985 was Wally Morton, who is also retiring at the end of the 2013-14 campaign from Cleveland State.
During the meet there was a special presentation where Notre Dame Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick applauded Coach Welsh's dedication to the University of Notre Dame.
"There is no better fit between a coach and a university than Tim Welsh and the University of Notre Dame," said Swarbrick. He also referenced Coach Welsh's dedication to the values of the University of Notre Dame saying, "He has lived them, taught them and modeled them."
"Today was a celebration all day long," said Welsh. "It was fun and it was competitive. It took me completely by surprise. I was very careful managing the meet and thought it was going to be a quiet dual meet. Then things changed starting from the national anthem and all of the videos in the middle. This wasn't something that was started yesterday. People put a lot of work into this. I loved seeing the guys. It exhausted me emotionally over and over again. I have been overwhelmed today.
"The presentation was something like I had never even imagined," he added. "I am very happy and very thrilled. Personally, I loved having my family here with me. I was so happy my sons were able to be here as well."
In the pool, the Irish swimming and diving program sent Welsh out with a victory behind a dominating performance. Senior Frank Dyer led the Irish by setting the program record in the 1,000 freestyle with a 9:11.93 showing, while fellow senior Colin Babcock added two additional victories of his own in the 100 free and the 400 IM.
Eight other student-athletes won an event for Notre Dame. Those winners included: Patrick Olson (200 free), Cameron Miller (100 breast), Andrew Jensen (200 fly), Zach Stephens (50 free), Bogac Ayhan (200 back), Joshua Choi (200 breast), Reed Fujan (500 free), Michael Hudspith (100 fly) and Joe Coumos (3-meter diving). The Irish were also victorious in the 200 medley relay in which the quartet of Nel, Miller, Jack Cobain and Matthew Buerger took home gold in a time of 1:31.90.
"I thought the swimming part was a great way to have our final dual meet," said Welsh. "If you had to pick out the top swim, the university record in the 1,000 free has to be it. We set up a lot of preparation for championships and we will want them to play out in a good way come ACCs."
With the victory, Notre Dame concluded the dual meet schedule with a 7-5-1 record.
The Irish diving squad will next compete at the ACC Championships staring on February 19th while the swimming team will travel to Greensboro, N.C., for the swimming portion of the ACC Championships commencing on February 26th.
1,000 Free - Frank Dyer (9:11.93)*
200 Free - Patrick Olson (1:41.85)
100 Breast - Cameron Miller (55.98)
200 Fly - Andrew Jensen (1:51.72)
50 Free - Zach Stephens (20.80)
100 Free - Colin Babcock (46.00)
200 Back - Bogac Ayhan (1:50.87)
200 Breast - Joshua Choi (2:06.65)
500 Free - Reed Fujan (4:34.65)
100 Fly - Michael Hudspith (50.61)
400 IM - Colin Babcock (4:05.99)
3-meter Diving - Joe Coumos (371.85)
* Notre Dame Program Record
IRISH RUNNER-UP PERFORMANCES
1,000 Free - Kevin Hughes (9:40.60)
200 Free - Matthew DeBlasio (1:42.05)
100 Back - Jack Cobain (51.71)
100 Breast - Bertie Nel - (58.70)
100 Free - Michael Hudspith (56.09)
500 Free - John Williamson (4:42.44)
100 Fly - Matthew Buerger (51.35)
1-meter Diving - Michael Kreft (312.00)
3-meter Diving - Ted Wagner (358.80)
-- Andrew Bartolini, Media Relations/Swimming & Diving Guru