Feb. 10, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -
For the second time in three seasons, Notre Dame will head to Pittsburgh in search of a team title at the BIG EAST Conference Men's Swimming and Diving Championship held at Trees Pool. Notre Dame's last trip to Pittsburgh for a league meet yielded a runner-up finish to two-time defending champion Louisville.
The diving portion of the competition takes place Feb. 10-12 with the swimming events lasting from Feb. 15-18. Live video and results will be available at UND.com.
"We talk all year about how we will perform at the BIG EAST Championships and advancing to our over-arching goal of the NCAA Championships," Irish head coach Tim Welsh said. "Now it's show time, and we're excited to see what we can do. Our divers have been excellent all year and our swimmers have posted some great times throughout the season. It's important for us to get off to a good start and keep that momentum rolling throughout the meet.
"The team is very familiar with Trees Pool, having competed there several times. We've raced well there, and Pittsburgh has made the pool as fast as possible for the championship."
Frank Dyer (20.19) is the league's second-seeded performer in the 50 free with Kevin Overholt (20.38) holding the fourth spot in that event. Dyer and Overholt are third and fourth, respectively, in the 100 free and Dyer is the top-seeded individual in the 200 free (1:35.58). Dyer is also seeded second in the 500 free (4:22.28), an event in which he holds the league record.
Jimmy McEldrew's mile time of 15:44.39 ranks third while Bertie Nel is seeded fifth in the 100 back (49.49) and fourth in the 200 back (1:48.08).
Holding down the 100 breast is third-seeded Christopher Johnson
(55.23). Zachary Stephens
is fourth in the 200 breast (2:00.59).
Patrick Olson's 1:49.68 in the 200 individual medley ranks fourth in the league and his 3:56.30 in the 400 version is second overall.
After competing for 25 years as an independent, Notre Dame joined the Midwestern Collegiate Conference in 1983-84, beginning a 12-year membership in which the Irish would win six league championships (1986 and 1988-92) and finish as the MCC runner-up four times (1984-85 and 1993-94). Notre Dame joined the BIG EAST prior to the 1995-96 season and has been a member since then.
The Irish have registered 14 consecutive top-four finishes in the BIG EAST Championships, including six runner-up results (1999-2000, 2004, 2007, 2010-11).
In 2005, Notre Dame registered a meet-record 902.5 points to capture the program's first-ever BIG EAST title. The Fighting Irish defeated Pittsburgh, the eight-time defending conference champions, by 275 points.
Notre Dame defended its title in 2006 by registering 809 points to top runner-up Pittsburgh and the rest of the field. The Irish were edged out by West Virginia (765.5-761) in their bid for a third consecutive title in 2007 but bounced back by taking the crown in 2008 and 2009.
Notre Dame has won 34 event titles at the BIG EAST meet, with five of those occurring at the 2005 championships and four more in 2006. Tim Kegelman became the first Irish swimmer to win three BIG EAST titles. Kegelman collected all three titles at the 2005 meet by winning the 100 fly, 200 individual medley and was part of the champion 400 medley relay.
Ray Fitzpatrick (who was first in the 200 free in 2000 after anchoring the champion 400 free relay in 1999) was the first Irish student-athlete to win multiple BIG EAST championships.
In 2006, Jay Vanden Berg became the second competitor in program history to capture multiple titles in the same meet as he won both the 500 and 1,650 free events. Vanden Berg also won the 1,650 free in 2005 and is tied with Kegelman for the program record of three event titles.
John Lytle joined the elite company by earning three first-place finishes at the 2009 meet (800 free relay, 400 free relay, 200 free).
The top three finishers in every event gain all-BIG EAST honors, and over 50 Notre Dame competitors have achieved that status. Lytle leads the Irish with 16 all-conference honors.