Feb. 11, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -
The trek for a fifth league title in seven seasons begins Friday for Notre Dame when the Irish kickoff the opening day of the 2011 BIG EAST Conference Swimming and Diving Championships at Wright Natatorium in Louisville, Ky. Live video and results will be available throughout the championships at UND.com, while Event-by-event breakdowns can be followed on Twitter (@NDSwimming).
The diving portion of the event will span from Feb. 11-13 with the swimming events lasting from Feb. 16-19.
Eric Lex is the top-seeded performer in the 1- and 3-meter diving events as a host of Irish litter the top ranks of the swimming events.
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 13 consecutive top-four finishes in the BIG EAST Championships, including five runner-up results (1999-2000, 2004, 2007, 2010).
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 with the crown in 2008 and 2009.
Notre Dame has won 31 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 was part of the champion 400 medley relay.
(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 45 Notre Dame competitors have achieved that status. Lytle leads the Irish with 16 all-conference honors.