Junior All-American Zach Stephens is ranked in the top 10 nationally in both the 200 IM (eighth) and 100 breaststroke (ninth) entering this weekend's meet at Northwestern
Jan. 10, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - After more than a month away from official competition, the University of Notre Dame men's swimming and diving team will open its 2014 schedule with a double-dual meet Saturday at 2 p.m. (ET) against Northwestern and No. 1 Michigan at the Norris Aquatic Center in Evanston, Ill.
The Irish closed the 2013 half of their regular season slate with a first-place finish at the Iowa Hawkeye Invitational on Dec. 6-8 in Iowa City, Iowa.
Notre Dame (4-4), ranked 20th in the most recent College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Division I Team Rankings, returns to the United States mainland after more than a week abroad on its winter training trip to Puerto Rico. The Irish repeated as the men's team champion at the 10th annual Copa Coqui Meet last Sunday at the Encantata Facilities Sports Center in Truijilo Alto, Puerto Rico.
Five Irish swimmers emerged with individual race victories during the exhibition Copa Coqui meet, with senior captain Colin Babcock earning the distinction of being the lone Notre Dame double solo winner. Babcock outpaced the field in the 100-meter freestyle (53.50) event, and completed a four-year sweep in the 200-meter IM with a winning swim of 2:10.71. Junior All-American John Williamson (100-meter butterfly, 57.13), junior Cameron Miller (100-meter breaststroke, meet record 1:05.55) and senior two-time All-American Frank Dyer (50-meter freestyle, meet record 23.84) also added gold medal efforts.
Notre Dame competitors also swept both relay distances during the meet, with sophomore Bogac Ayhan, Miller, Dyer and junior All-American Zach Stephens combining to bring home gold in the 200-meter medley relay with a time of 1:46.48. The Irish also defended their crown in the "Polvorones Relay" to close the Copa Coqui meet, a 10-man, 500-meter freestyle relay that serves as the grand finale of the event. The Notre Dame entry of Dyer, sophomore Matthew Buerger, junior Patrick Olson, freshman Kevin Bradley, freshman Trent Jackson, Ayhan, junior Kevin Hughes, sophomore Michael Hudspith, Babcock and Stephens set a meet record with a top time of 4:04.22.
The Irish will look for a dual contest win at Northwestern for the third time in the last four seasons after claiming a 160-140 victory on Jan. 12, 2011, and a 191-177 decision over the Wildcats at the 2013 Northwestern Invitational (Feb. 1-2). The triumph at last season's invitational was the 400th all-time dual meet win in Notre Dame program history. Dyer paced the Irish with a pair of race wins in the 100 (44.71) and 200 freestyle (NCAA B-cut 1:37.67), while Williamson added a winning 200 butterfly time of 1:49.88. Nick Nemetz earned the top spot in the 1-meter diving event, scoring a total of 316.35 points.
Top-ranked Michigan is no stranger to Notre Dame this season, as the Wolverines and Irish are scheduled in the same meet for the third time in team competition thus far in 2013-14. Notre Dame placed third in a hard-fought performance at the season-opening Dennis Stark Relays that included both Michigan and Auburn on Oct. 11 before engaging in another intense contest with both teams in a tri-dual meet the following day.
Entering the weekend's racing, Dyer is ranked in the top 10 nationally with the eighth-fastest time in the 200 freestyle (1:34.50 at the Hawkeye Invitational), while Stephens has posted the eighth-best 200 IM (1:44.34 at the Hawkeye Invitational) and the ninth-best 100 breaststroke (53.24 at the Hawkeye Invitational) times in the country this season. Williamson's swim of 1:44.18 in the 200 butterfly at the Hawkeye Invitational is currently the 11th-best time in the stroke nationwide.
Fans can follow Saturday's meet at Northwestern with live stats provided at results.teamunify.com/isnasa.
Men's Order of Events
No. 20 Notre Dame vs. Northwestern; Northwestern vs. No. 1 Michigan
Jan. 11, 2014
Norris Aquatic Center, Evanston, Ill.
200 Medley Relay
400 Free Relay