1996-97 Season Outlook
Head coach Tim Welsh entershis 12th year at Notre Dame and his 1996-97 men’s swimming and divingteam enters its second season in the BIG EAST looking to improve uponits 1996 finish.
“Last year we were dead center in the conference,seventh out of 13 teams,” says Welsh. “We were pleased with our finishlast year but we think that we are capable of improving.”
Welsh willbring a very young team into the 1996-97 season with well over half ofthe team comprised of freshmen and sophomores.
“We are a very young teamwith 15 freshmen and only five seniors,” says Welsh. “If we are goingto be fast, we will need our seniors to do a great job in leading usbecause we do not have much experience on this team.”
Senior Matt Rose(Memphis, Tenn.) heads up this group of seniors as captain of the squad.Rose made major improvements last year as he developed into the team’stop breaststroker with a pair of fifth-place finishes in the 100 (57.91)and 200 (2:06.04) breaststroke at the BIG EAST championships.
“Matt hadhis best year yet as a junior,” says Welsh. “He has the trust andconfidence of the team, as well as the leadership skills as captain tokeep us focused.”
Ry Beville (Chesterfield, Va.) returns to the team asa fifth-year senior after studying abroad with the University’s Japanprogram. As a junior during the 1994-95 season, Beville became NotreDame’s top butterfly swimmer in history as he set school records in boththe 100 (50.02) and 200 (1:50.33) butterfly.
“Ry Beville’s return to theteam will be a major boost for us,” says Welsh. “Of course he will helpus in the fly but also on our relays.”
Senior Rich Murphy (PalisadesPark, N.J.) filled in well in the fly events last year and will beneeded for his ability to swim butterfly and freestyle events.
“Rich isin the best shape of his career,” says Welsh. “He is very versatile andcan race in almost every event. He knows how to race in the big meetsand understands the skill of racing.”
Josh Saylor (South Bend, Ind.) isanother senior who will give the team depth in backstroke and butterflyevents. He swam in four different events last season for the Irish.
Junior Ron Royer (Rochester Hills, Mich.) returns to the pool this yearafter upgrading his academic standing during the 1995-96 season. Royerwas one of Notre Dame’s top freestylers as a freshman when he swam theseventh-best 200 free and ninth-best 50 free in school history.
“Ron’sreturn to the team will be a big boost to our team,” says Welsh. “He ison a mission this year and has a big role to play.”
Royer’s co-captainwhen the two were seniors on the swimming team at Brother Rice HighSchool, junior Brian Najarian (Troy, Mich.) is one of the team’s topreturning sprinters.
“Brian’s role has enlarged each year he has beenhere,” says Welsh. “He did a great job in the sprint events last seasonand there is room for him to continue to grow this year.”
Junior SteveCardwell (Marietta, Ga.) enters the 1996-97 season healthy afterbattling through injuries last season during which he was able tocompete in only in seven events.
“Steve had a great finish to aninjury-filled season last year,” says Welsh. “We are looking for him tobe a leader this year.”
A first-year junior at Notre Dame, PeterClearkin (Cushendall, Ireland) comes to Notre Dame with swimmingexperience in Ireland. The ST MacNissis College exchange student swamin the Irish nationals in the sprint freestly events.
Welsh is countingon the sophomores, who made major contributions as freshmen a year ago,to continue to contribute to the team.
“That group of guys really camein as freshmen and gave us clutch performances,” says Welsh. “They willdo great again with the year of experience that they now have.”
Theteam’s top freshman a year ago, sophomore Scott Zumbach (Katonah, N.Y.)swam the four fastest times in Notre Dame history in the 400 individualmedley (3:59.91) and the fastest 1650 freestyle (15:47.50). He was alsoone of the team’s best performers at the BIG EAST championships withthree top-10 finishes in the 1650 free, 200 IM and 400 IM.
“ScottZumbach is one of the swimmers who we are really counting on this year,”says Welsh. “He did some great things for us last year and we hope hewill continue.”
Chris Fugate (Independence, Mo.) swam the fastest 100backstroke (52.19) in school history last year on his way to hissixth-place finish at the BIG EAST championships. The sophomore alsoplaced eighth in the 200 backstroke (1:53.55) at the BIG EASTchampionships.
“Chris gave us some great results last year,” says Welsh.”He is such a committed swimmer and trained well this summer.”
SteeleWhowell (Fontana, Wis.) should boost Notre Dame in the breaststrokeevents as he did last season with his seventh place finish at the BIGEAST championships in the 100 breaststroke (58.17).
“Steele did atremendous job for us stepping up into the 200 breaststroke from the 100breaststroke,” says Welsh. “He is a great athlete and competitor.”
Sophomore Jeff Page (Louisville, Ky.) returns as the team’s top swimmerfrom 1996 in the 100 butterfly. Page also won three races in the 200individual medley and should help out the Irish again with his solidresults.
Welsh is also counting on sophomore Wes Richardson (OverlandPark, Kan.) who had six second-place finishes last year in distancefreestyle events.
“Wes Richardson had a great summer after he broke hiscollarbone this past spring,” says Welsh. “He looks ahead of where hewas last fall despite the break.”
Welsh is also excited about the1996-97 freshman class which he feels could rival last year’s freshmen.
“Our incoming freshman class is large and fast,” says Welsh. “It alsoincludes some experienced divers. The freshmen will definitelycontribute points on the scoreboard especially in the shorter freestyleevents and the relays.”
Freshmen Josh Cahill (Richmond, Ky.), RaymondFitzpatrick (Doylestown, Pa.), Brian Kolle (The Woodlands, Texas) andJohn Steffan (Memphis, Tenn.) are expected to contribute in the sprintfreestyle races.
Charles Bard (Flemington, N.J.) swam butterfly on theYMCA national champion 200 and 400 medley relay teams and should helpout in fly events.
Antonio Fonseca (Greenville, R.I.), a four-timeall-state selection at Bishop Hendrickson High School, participated inthe 100 and 200 breaststroke at the 1995 and 1996 junior nationals andshould help out Rose in the breaststroke events. Fellow freshmen KevinMcCluskey (Lima, Ohio), Michael Revers (Naperville, Ill.) and BrysonToothaker (South Bend, Ind.) should join in the breaststroke events.Peter Mehok (Stamford, Conn.), a participant in the junior nationals,should help out the Irish in the backstroke events.
Robert Fetter(Lakeland, Fla.) was named both a swimming and academic All-American andshould contribue in the individual medley. Sean Casey (Little Rock,Ark.) and John Lubker (Roswell, Ga.) should team together to give NotreDame depth in the distance freestlye events.
Welsh and second-yeardiving coach Caiming Xie have a new and talented group of divers thisseason, one the team’s biggest areas of improvement. The lone returningdiver who will give the Irish a sound foundation, senior Rob Lambert(Valley Forge, Pa.) won two diving events a year ago and placed 17th atthe BIG EAST championships.
Joining with Lambert and highlighting thegroup of newcomers is freshman standout Herb Huesman (Cincinnati, Ohio)who was a first-team All-American all four years in high school andshould give some immediate results in diving. He was a member of theJunior Olympic champion team in 1994 and has competed individually inthe junior nationals on six occasions.
“Herb is a very experienceddiver,” says Welsh. “He is among a more elite level of U.S. diving andhis presence will help out the other divers on the team. They willtrain together and their improvement will be drastic.”
Freshmen TylerMaertz (Laguna Hills, Calif.) and James McInerney (Bethesda, Md.) shouldbenefit from the tutelage of Xie and help Notre Dame in the future.
“With the addition of the freshman class and some strong divers, we arereally excited about our second year in the BIG EAST,” says Welsh. “Weare looking for a winning season and with the balance we now have, thatis definitely possible.”