Aug 16, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The quest to find the most competitive schedule is something that the University of Notre Dame men’s swimming and diving team strives for each competitive season. With a talent-laden slate that includes two of the past four NCAA Division I Men’s Swimming and Diving champions, Irish head coach Tim Welsh did not use the term “toughest schedule ever” lightly when Notre Dame released its 2013-14 meet schedule earlier this week.
“If you look at our schedule, it’s a ‘wow’ schedule,” Welsh said. “I have said in past years that I thought we had put together our toughest schedule ever. This might be, yet again, the toughest schedule we’ve ever put together. Even though we are in the Atlantic Coast Conference, by looking at the schedule, you could make a case for saying we’re in the Big Ten. We have a very strong, solid Midwest schedule that will be a challenge to us all the way down the line.”
Notre Dame’s 2013-14 season begins with a flurry when defending NCAA champion Michigan travels to the Rolfs Aquatic Center Oct. 11 at 5 p.m. ET to compete at the 49th annual Dennis Stark Relays. The following day, the Wolverines and 2009 national champion Auburn will face the Irish in a 1 p.m. tri-dual meet on the Notre Dame campus.
“It’s just going to be a grand start, and I think what’s exciting for us is that it keys us from the very beginning to say, ‘yes, this is the level to which we aspire,'” Welsh said. “We want to compete at that level, we will compete at that level. It’s going to really say right at the start that this is what Notre Dame swimming is going to be like.”
Following the consecutive days of competition at the Rolfs Aquatic Center to open the fall, the Irish will hit the road for over a month, making stops in USAF Academy, Colo. (Air Force, Oct. 25), West Lafayette (Purdue, Nov. 1) and Pittsburgh, Pa. (Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech tri-meet, Nov. 9). While the ACC does not mandate an in-season dual meet schedule, the showdown with the Panthers and Hokies at the Trees Pool in Pittsburgh will be Notre Dame’s first official encounter in conference action with new league opponents.
A pair of home meets will follow the road trip, with the Irish set to entertain Michigan State (Nov. 15, 5 p.m.) and Wisconsin (Nov. 16, 1 p.m.) at the Rolfs Aquatic Center before another lengthy home hiatus. Notre Dame will compete at the Iowa Hawkeye Invitational (Dec. 6-8), at Northwestern (Jan. 11) and at former BIG EAST and future ACC foe Louisville (Jan. 24) in sanctioned meets to begin the second half of the season. The Irish will also make what has become an annual winter training trip to the 10th annual Copa Coqui Meet Jan. 4-5 in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico.
The regular season will wind down with the final two Notre Dame events of the campaign being held at home. The Shamrock Invitational (Jan. 31-Feb. 1) will set the stage for the final Irish dual meet of the year, when Cleveland State travels to the Rolfs Aquatic Center Feb. 8 for a noon start.
In a departure from the normal championship schedule that Notre Dame followed in the BIG EAST Conference, the ACC Diving Championship will begin one week earlier (Feb. 19-22) than the swimming portion (Feb. 26-March 1) of the conference meet. Both events will be held at the Greensboro Aquatic Center in Greensboro, N.C.
“This is going to be the first time we have traveled so far away for a championship meet in several years, so it will be a challenge for us,” Welsh said. “I think being road-tested all season long will be good for us in that regard.”
The NCAA Zone Diving Meet will be held March 13-15 at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion in Columbus, Ohio. The 2013 NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships are scheduled for March 27-29 at the Texas Aquatic Center in Austin, Texas.
Last season Notre Dame sent a program record nine swimmers to compete at the NCAA Championships, and Irish swimmers earned a total of six honorable mention All-America scrolls at the national championship meet.
“There is tremendous excitement, and has been tremendous excitement within the program ever since the move to the ACC was announced,” Welsh said. “We’re excited because we know this affiliation with the ACC will make us better. There still is a great deal of back and forth swimming to be done before we go down to Greensboro and see how the season turns out, but there is a lot of excitement about our new conference and a chance to raise the level of the program.”