Feb. 12, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – With the regular season in the books, the Notre Dame men’s swimming and diving team now turns its attention to the 2010 BIG EAST Conference Championships, which begins Friday in Pittsburgh, Pa. Hosted by the University of Pittsburgh with action taking place at Trees Pool, the two-week event begins Feb. 12 and concludes Feb. 20. The swimming portion of this year’s event will begin on Wednesday (Feb. 17).
Defending champion Notre Dame (5-6) has won four of the last five team titles with runner-up finishes in 2004 and 2007. The Irish are receiving votes in the latest College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) ranking.
Each of the sessions can be viewed live and on-demand at BIGEAST.tv. Preliminary and final results along with daily recaps will be available at UND.com. For up-to-the-minute results and scores, sign up for IRISH ALERTS text-messaging services at UND.com. In-meet updates will be available at twitter.com/NDSwimming.
Notre Dame swimmers have posted a number of the league’s top-five times in their respective events throughout the regular season, paced by third-best performances by MacKenzie LeBlanc in the 200 fly (1:48.03) and John Lytle in the 200 free (1:39.48).
After competing for 25 years as an independent, Notre Dame joined the Midwestern Collegiate Conference in 1983-84, beginning a 12-year membership through which the Irish would win six league championships (1986, 1988-92) finished runner-up on four occasions (1984-85, 1993-94). Notre Dame joined the BIG EAST Conference prior to the 1995-96 season and has been a member since then.
The Irish have registered 12 consecutive top-four finishes at the BIG EAST Championships. In 2005, Notre Dame registered a meet-record 902.5 points to capture the program’s first-ever BIG EAST title. It was then that 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 before outsting Louisville for the top spot in 2008, and topped the Cardinals again in 2009.
Notre Dame has won 22 event titles at the BIG EAST meet, with five of those occurring at the 2005 and 2009 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 and was part of the champion 400 medley relay.
Ray Fitzpatrick – 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.
Lytle currently holds the school records with four BIG EAST titles (1 individual, 3 relay) and all-BIG EAST citations (5 individual, 11 relay).