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Irish land three top swimmers to strengthen the push for a BIG EAST title -- November 28, 2001

NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- (11-28-01) University of Notre Dame men's head swimming coach Tim Welsh has announced the signing of three incoming freshman for the 2002-03 school year. Patrick Heffernan (Norcross, Ga.), Jamie Lutkus (Granger, Ind.)and Stephen Shomberger (Spotsylvania, Vir.) have signed national letters of intent to enroll at Notre Dame next year and join the Irish swimming and diving team.

"When you look at the trio, they are from different parts of the country, which really expands our national base," Welsh says.

"All three members of this class will be major players in our push for a BIG EAST title and the overall effort to upgrade the program."

Heffernan attends Norcross High School and was a member of the Swim Atlanta club team. His 200 butterfly time from the 2000 season qualified him for the U.S. Junior Nationals and he boasts butterfly times (100 - 51.70, 200 - 1:53.01) that would qualify for this year's BIG EAST Championship meet.

"Patrick gives us immediate help in the 200 butterfly, where we are thin, and that will help us in the BIG EAST Championship picture," Welsh says.

Lutkus will give the Irish a local presence after a standout career at nearby Penn High School. He also swam for the Irish Aquatics club team. Lutkus posted U.S. Open qualifying times in the 100 and 200 breaststroke and the 200 and 400 individual medleys. His 200-yard breaststroke time of 2:05.99 ranked 15th in the nation for 15-16 year-olds in 2001, while his 400-yard IM time (4:00.03) was 11th.

"Jamie will be a major contributor to our program from the very beginning," Welsh says.

"We had hoped that, as we upgrade the program, we could start with an outstanding local athlete. Jamie certainly fills that category."

Shomberger will graduate from Courtland High School and swam for the Curl-Burke Swim Club during his prep career. He boasts U.S. Open qualifying times in the 100 (51.45) and 200 backstroke (1:48.92). He also won the 2001 Spring Sectional title in the 200 back and his 1:48.92 time ranked sixth in the nation for 15-16 year-olds in 2001.

"Stephen's backstroke is, at this point, ranked the highest of anyone that has entered our program," Welsh says.

"We are really excited about what he will bring to our program. Together with Patrick and Jamie, Stephen is going to help define what this program will be over the next four years."