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Irish Open Season At Home Friday In Dennis Stark Relays

Oct. 2, 2003

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – All 29 members of the University of Notre Dame men’s swimming and diving team will be in action as the Irish open their season Friday at 6:30 p.m. in the Dennis Stark Relays in the Rolfs Aquatic Center. This is the 39th staging of the Relays, but the first since they were renamed to honor the legendary former Notre Dame swimming and diving coach.

DENNIS STARK RELAYS: Formerly known as the Notre Dame Relays, the 2003 version of the meet will honor former Irish swimming and diving coach Dennis Stark, who after 50 years of service to the Notre Dame athletics department retired last spring. Stark was the first coach of both the men’s and women’s swimming teams at Notre Dame, for 27 years before moving into the Rolfs Aqautic Center Director position in 1985. A 1947 graduate of Notre Dame, Stark was the head coach of the Irish men’s program from 1958-85, compiling a 174-137 (.559) dual-meet record.

In addition to his coaching, Stark has been heavily involved in the Special Olympics program. He was the Aquatics venue manager for the 1987 International Summer Olympics held in South Bend and was honored by Eunice Kennedy Shriver for his outstanding work.

He also has been honored by the Notre Dame National Monogram Club, earned the Harvey G. Foster Award from the Notre Dame Alumni Association and was recently presented the Russ Oliver Award, which honored his high ideals, dedication and service to youth athletics by the St. Joseph Valley Officials Association. The St. Joseph Valley Officials Association awarded Stark the 2000 Zebra Award.

Notre Dame will welcome three other teams to the Rolfs pool this weekend: Marquette, Valparaiso, and Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In the women’s portion of the meet, Illinois State and Saint Mary’s will join those four schools.

The schedule of events is below. The women will swim each event first, followed by the men. All relays, unless noted, consist of four athletes swimming a quarter of the distance.

* 200 freestyle relay

* 400 medley relay

* 800 freestyle relay

* 400 individual medley relay (consists of four swimmers each swimming a 100-yard individual medley)

* 500 crescendo relay (consists of five swimmers swimming the 50, 100, 200, 100 and 50 freestyle in that order)

* 400 butterfly relay

* 400 backstroke relay

* 400 breaststroke relay

* 1,000 freestyle relay (with two swimmers going 500 yards each)

* 200 medley relay

* 400 freestyle relay

* 3-meter synchronized diving (they will do five synchronized divers together, two required and three optional)

The men’s and women’s meets will be scored separately. Point totals will be the following: 1st-20; 2nd-14; 3rd-12; 4th-10; 5th-8; 6th-6; 7th-4; 8th-2.

Notre Dame has a strong history in the Relays, taking first place on 18 occasions, including six times in the last seven seasons.

In 2002, the same four teams competed in the Notre Dame Relays, and the Irish won all but one event en route to victory. The only blemish on Notre Dame’s record was the 800 freestyle relay, in which they had a team disqualified. The Irish had 220 points, followed by Wisconsin-Milwaukee with 158, Valparaiso with 112, and Marquette with 74. In all, 22 different Irish swimmers were part of at least one victorious relay team. Six Notre Dame competitors, including three freshmen making their collegiate debuts, were part of three different winning relays: ’03 graduate Jason Fitzpatrick, current juniors Frank Krakowski (Erie, Pa./Cathedral Preparatory School) and David Moisan (Fisherville, Ky./Louisville Male High School), and then-rookies Doug Bauman (Erie, Pa./Cathedral Preparatory School), Tyler Grenda (Hockessin, Del./Salestanum H.S.), and Tim Randolph (Crown Point, Ind./Merrillville H.S.).

IRISH ANNOUNCE 2003-04 SCHEDULE: Notre Dame head coach Tim Welsh announced his team’s 2003-04 schedule last week, unveiling perhaps the most challenging slate in the history of the program. In all, six of the 13 dual meets will feature opponents that qualified and scored points in last year’s NCAA Championships. The home schedule features two traditional invitationals, six dual meets on four dates, as well as a long course time trial.

The Irish open their season on Friday with the Dennis Stark Relays and will play host to the Notre Dame Invitational, the premiere event of the fall semester, from December 4-6. Among the notable dual meets are a home triangular on November 14 against BYU (22nd at ’03 NCAAs), Iowa (39th), and Louisville, and road meets against North Carolina (Oct. 21, 32nd at NCAAs) and Northwestern (Jan. 24, 26th), and a triangular with Maryland and Villanova at defending BIG EAST champion Pittsburgh (36th at NCAAs) from January 16-17. The season culminates from February 19-21 at the BIG EAST Championships at the Goodwill Games Aquatic Center in Uniondale, N.Y., which also will play host to the NCAA Championships from March 25-27.

IT TAKES TWO: In returning to a Notre Dame men’s swimming and diving tradition, the Irish will be led by a pair of co-captains in 2003-04 — seniors Josh Dermott (El Dorado Hills, Calif./Rio Americano H.S.) and Matt Obringer (Jacksonville, Fla./The Bolles School). After Notre Dame had tri-captains a season ago for just the second time in the 46-year history of the program, the Irish will have co-captains for the 21st time in the last 24 years.

RECORD-BREAKING SEASON: The 2002-03 season was one that made an immediate impact on the Irish record books. At the end of the campaign, seven University records were broken, while a number of others were closely challenged. Current junior Frank Krakowski (Erie, Pa./Cathedral Preparatory School) took part in five of those records. On the opening day of the BIG EAST Championships, Krakowski knocked .28 seconds off the previous record, by finishing the 50-yard freestyle in 20.45. The following day, he broke his own varsity record in the 100-yard butterfly … twice, going 48.92 in the finals. Krakowski enters his junior season holding seven of the top nine times in Irish history in the event.

Krakowski also was a member of three relay teams that broke school records — all by more than one second — at the BIG EAST meet. On day one, Krakowski followed current sophomore Tim Randolph (Crown Point, Ind./Merrillville H.S.) into the pool and was followed by ’03 graduate Jason Fitzpatrick and current senior co-captain Matt Obringer (Jacksonville, Fla./The Bolles School) on the fastest Notre Dame 200-yard medley relay team ever. The quartet finished in 1:22.02, which was 1.07 seconds quicker than the four-year-old previous record. Also that day, current sophomore Doug Bauman (Erie, Pa./Cathedral Preparatory School), Fitzpatrick, Krakowski, and Randolph combined to go a school-record 3:19.45 in the 400-yard medley relay. On the second day of the conference meet, the same group set a varsity mark in the 200-yard medley relay, with a time of 1:30.58, which was 1.65 seconds better than the previous record.

Also on February 21, Fitzpatrick finished his collegiate career in the event by breaking his own record in the 100-yard breaststroke in a time of 55.35. He graduated with the five fastest times in the event in Irish history to his credit. Current sophomore Jamie Lutkus (Granger, Ind./Penn H.S.) turned in the two fastest 400-yard individual medley times in school history on the middle day of the BIG EAST Championships, eventually setting the varsity mark at 3:54.38, which was 1.96 seconds quicker than the Notre Dame record heading into the day.

YOUTHFUL AIRS: This year’s Irish team has a definite youthful side to it. Of the 29 student-athletes, only eight have more than one previous season of collegiate experience. There are just four members of the class of 2003 and also just four juniors, while 10 sophomores and 11 freshmen fill out the roster.

FAMILIAR START: This marks the fifth consecutive season Notre Dame has opened the season with the Notre Dame/Dennis Stark Relays. The last time an Irish team swam competitively prior to the Notre Dame Relays was 1998-99, when they lost a home dual meet to Stanford on Oct. 2, one week before the Relays.

HEAD COACH Tim Welsh: Irish head coach Tim Welsh is in his 19th season leading the Irish men’s swimming and diving program after helming both the men’s and women’s teams from 1985-94. In his career, which spans 26 previous seasons, Welsh has compiled a 366-224 (.620) overall dual-meet mark, including a 216-119 (.645) record coaching men’s swimming and diving. A former Division III National Coach of the Year, Welsh has helped his teams to a pair of national titles, as well as 24 conference championships (15 Midwestern Collegiate, 9 Middle Atlantic, 1 North Star). Prior to coming to Notre Dame, he led the Johns Hopkins men’s and women’s programs for eight years, winning back-to-back men’s Division III national titles in 1978 and ’79, being named National Coach of the Year on the latter occasion. Since coming to Notre Dame, he has coached 11 athletes who have earned berths in the NCAA Championships. His impact on the evolution of the men’s program is evidenced by the fact that all but one current University record has been set since 1999. Welsh was named the BIG EAST Coach of the Year in 1999 and has been awarded an honorary monogram for his distinguished service to the swimming programs by Notre Dame’s National Monogram Club. He currently has the second-longest tenure of any Irish coach at Notre Dame (track and field coach Joe Piane is first at 29 years).

Welsh also is involved with the sport at the national and international levels, as he served on the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Swimming Committee from 1991-97 and was president of the group at one time. He also has served as the president of the BIG EAST swimming coaches, is a board member of the American Swimming Coaches Association, and will serve on the technical director’s staff for the 2005 World University Games in Turkey.

HEAD DIVING COACH Caiming Xie: Caiming Xie is in his ninth season as the head diving coach at Notre Dame for both the men’s and women’s teams. During his tenure, he has coached two All-Americans on the women’s side, as well as the top two men’s divers in school history: Herb Huesman and Andy Maggio, who barely missed being the first Irish male ever to qualify for the NCAA Championships, in 2002. Caiming has been named his conference’s top diving coach on three occasions, most recently in the BIG EAST in 1999. On the women’s side, Caiming was responsible for the development of Heather Mattingly and Meghan Perry-Eaton, the first two diving All-Americans in Notre Dame history. Caiming also has a great deal of international coaching experience, serving as diving coach for the Chinese Olympic and national team from 1977-90, being recognized as the Chinese National Diving Coach of the Year twice (1986 and ’87). His divers have won a number of medals in international events, including a gold in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain by Sun Shu-Wei.

KEEPING UP WITH NOTRE DAME MEN’S SWIMMING & DIVING: For the fastest results of Notre Dame men’s swimming and diving meets, call the Notre Dame Sports Hotline at (574) 631-3000 and choose #7. The hotline provides schedule and results information for all 26 varsity sports and serves as a supplement to the meet previews and recaps provided on the official athletic website, The hotline is the first medium updated with the results of each Notre Dame men’s swimming and diving meet. In addition, media members and fans may be added to the sports information e-mail release list by contacting Bo Rottenborn at He also can provide any needed information about the Irish men’s swimming and diving program.