Notre Dame hosts its first home meet in almost a month Saturday when St. Bonaventure comes to South Bend.
A recent road trip was good to the Irish, who return home with two close wins over Pittsburgh and Michigan State. The team improved its overall record to 3-1 and a No. 18 national ranking. Despite its success on the road, the team is excited to be competing in South Bend.
"We're glad to be home." Irish coach Tim Welsh. "We like our pool and we are happy to be racing here again."
"It's nice not having to endure the long bus rides for the away meets," Notre Dame captain Patrick Hefernan said. "Everyone swims better at home."
The Irish welcome one of their oldest foes in St. Bonaventure. The two teams have met a total of 39 times, the most of any opponent on the current Irish schedule. Notre Dame has dominated the series (28-10) to this point, and won last season's mee 150-87.
The Bonnies come in fresh off a big victory over LaSalle last weekend, boosting their record to 2-1. Their only loss in a dual meet this season came to Pittsburgh.
St. Bonaventure's last victory over Notre Dame came in 2003, a loss that still irks the Irish.
"We didn't swim well at all on our last trip [to St. Bonaventure]. We earned the loss," Welsh said.
The coaching staff knows that after two close wins in Notre Dame's last two meets it would be foolish to look past the Bonnies.
All members of the team have also made sure that they are focused on this weekend's meet and will be ready to go Saturday.
"This is one more chance to race before a lot of us will be resting up, and we will be ready to go," Hefernan said.
The Irish are hoping for a good homecoming to set them up for the much-anticipated Notre Dame Invitational. The program's signature event begins Dec. 1 and is the next competition following St. Bonnie's.
"A lot of guys preparing for the Invite want to know where they are at this point," Welsh said. "This meet will be a good checkpoint to see how much they have improved."
The team has been working hard this past week on getting a stronger push off the wall and maximizing the time underwater before its first strokes.
The swimmers should be able to get a little extra experience with this meet's 16-event format. Most collegiate meets only have 12 races, the four additional contests will give the Irish an opportunity to work on things they do not use on a regular basis.
This Saturday will mark the last meet of the fall semester and with a win Notre Dame can move to 4-1 on the season, putting it in good position for the string of tournaments coming during the winter months.