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A True Team

by Elizabeth Goers

What makes this year’s Irish men’s swimming and diving team so special? The answer is simple – it truly is a team. The Irish have demonstrated throughout the season their team unity.

“The team is much closer this year,” says junior Dave Moisan, who specializes in the individual medley and breaststroke. “There’s a tighter bond in the team. When you are closer with your teammates, you trust them more, and therefore you have more fun. When you have more fun, you perform better. We have an incredible bond on this team.”

Moisan, who broke the Notre Dame Invitational record for the 400 individual medley this season with a time of 3:57.62, continually emphasizes the close-knit group of the 2003-2004 Irish swim team.

The Irish have a relatively young team with only four seniors and four juniors. If the swimming and diving program can build off the success of this season, then the following years should be even more successful as this year’s sophomores and freshmen gain experience. There are already three swimmers who have signed letters of intent to swim for Notre Dame in the class of 2008, which will provide a further boost.

A combination of the strength and numbers of younger swimmers, along with the knowledge and guidance of veterans has led the Irish through the season thus far.

“We have great leadership on this team,” said Moisan. “Our captains, Josh Dermott and Matt Obringer, have done an excellent job. Our coaches, Tim Welsh and Matt Tallman, have been fantastic this year, as well.”

Considering they have a more challenging schedule this year, the Irish have swum exceedingly well. Winning the Notre Dame Invitational and almost upsetting a 15th-ranked Northwestern team, the Irish have qualified all but four swimmers for the BIG EAST Championships. Moisan says the most important goal for the last two regular-season meets is to get everyone qualified for the BIG EAST meet. Heading into this weekend, the Irish who are 6-7 will host Cleveland State on Friday at 7 p.m. (EST) and Oakland on Saturday at 1 p.m. (EST), with both contests occurring in the Rolfs Aquatic Center.

The team has now begun preparing for the BIG EAST Championships which will be held in Uniondale, New York, Feb. 19-21. The Irish have begun a three-week taper in which they are cutting down the yardage swum in practice, as well as weightlifting. The Irish are highly focused as they prepare for the conference meet.

“Since the beginning of the season, Tim [Welsh] had a number of goals set for us as a team,” says Moisan. “First, everyone qualifies for the BIG EAST Championships. Secondly, everyone at the BIG EAST meet scores. Lastly, we win. To win is a realistic goal for us this year. We’re pretty adamant about doing it.”

If the Irish qualify a swimmer for the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships, it mark a first in the program’s history. Moisan thinks this year the team has an outstanding chance to make that dream a reality. The swimmer or swimmers who qualify for the NCAAs would pick up training yardage after the BIG EAST Championships and then cut down yards to taper again before the big meet. There is no doubt that if an Irish swimmer does go to the NCAA Championships, his teammates will be there to support him all the way.