Nov. 8, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Unlike nearly all University of Notre Dame athletic teams that are slated to compete in regular season competitions with other Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) members, the Irish men’s swimming and diving program does not have a structured in-season conference schedule.
Notre Dame is able to race against other ACC squads in dual meets throughout the year, but racing league opponents is not a mandated scheduling component. The Irish (1-3) will get their first taste of ACC competition Saturday at 11 a.m. (ET) in a tri-dual meet with Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech at Trees Pool in Pittsburgh, Pa.
“It’s a look at the ACC, it’s our first one and it’s our only one during the regular season,” Notre Dame head coach Tim Welsh said. “The ACC Championship has a travel limit on the squad you can take, and we are not used to having a travel limit, so even the process of selecting a travel team is not something we are accustomed to. But we will need to be accustomed to it as we continue to have in-season dual meets with ACC teams.”
The opponents this weekend are a pair of teams Notre Dame grew very familiar with during their mutual histories in the BIG EAST Conference. The Irish and Pittsburgh have competed against one another in dual meets in each of the past 11 seasons, and both schools competed at the BIG EAST Championships against Virginia Tech during the Hokies five years as a conference member.
“Pittsburgh is not the same Pittsburgh that we saw in our pool last year, they are a much improved team,” Welsh said. “That is great for them because they have worked at it for a while, they are very much improved. One of the things I admire about Pittsburgh is that the meet is sportsmanship at the highest level, they really compete at the level that college athletics is intended.
“Virginia Tech is very good, and has been for some time,” he said. “They are one of the leading teams in the ACC, their divers are among the leading divers in the country, and so as we said when the season began that there is not an easy meet on our schedule, we can say it again. There really is no easy meet on our schedule, and we expect to be challenged this weekend in Pittsburgh.”
Saturday’s 11 a.m. meet start time was not officially set until early in the week, with the decision on the kickoff time for the Notre Dame at Pittsburgh football game on the same day not being decided until last Sunday. Welsh said that the team has rarely run into a scenario where it did not know a meet’s start time so close to the event, but made it clear that it will not impact Notre Dame’s preparations for Saturday’s racing.
“Typically we know what time a meet is going to start a long time in advance, and we were all looking for the daily double of the swim meet and to attend the football game,” Welsh said. “The 8 p.m. kickoff sank that ship, that is just a bit too late for us to head back after a football game that starts at 8:00 at night. An 11 a.m. start for diving, a noon start for swimming, that’s ok for us. The NCAA Championships usually run the preliminaries with the women at 11 and the men at noon, so we can certainly deal with that.”
The last two Notre Dame treks to Trees pool have gone the way of the Irish, with a 193-107 dual meet win on Oct. 28, 2011, and the team’s fifth BIG EAST Championship triumph in February of 2012.
“We swim well in that pool, so for us we feel like saying, bring it on,” Welsh said. “We are familiar with the pool and we have stayed in the same hotel the last couple of times, which is right down the hill. We just get up in the morning, head up the hill and we are there. If our history at Purdue has been to stub out toe, our history at Pittsburgh is we swim very well.
“We have had a bad meet before at Pittsburgh but not for a long time, and certainly not this weekend,” he said. “We are counting on swimming very well Saturday morning.”
— Tony Jones, Media Relations Assistant