Feb. 8, 2018
by Tony Jones
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – With less than one week remaining before the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships are set to get under way, the University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s swimming teams return to the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion for the second time this season. The Irish are one of 11 teams set to compete in the Ohio State Winter Invitational this weekend in Columbus, Ohio.
Dual Sweep Ends Regular Season On A High Note
In the final official meet of the 2017-18 regular season, Notre Dame picked up a pair of hard-fought victories on Feb. 3 to wrap the year at the Rolfs Aquatic Center. The No. 19 Irish men defeated Green Bay 126-107 and added a 159-62 win over Ball State, while the Notre Dame women downed Green Bay 160-80 and Ball State 164-75 in the season’s final dual meet.
The Notre Dame men’s squad (9-2) saw a pair of individual wins from William Cumberland, who led the field in both the 200 freestyle and 500 freestyle for the Irish. Other key wins were earned by Notre Dame in the 200 medley relay, Tabahn Afrik in the 50 freestyle, Joe Turk in the 200 IM, Aaron Schultz in the 100 butterfly and Daniel Speers in the 100 freestyle.On the women’s side, Notre Dame (11-1) enjoyed a solid team effort that saw nine different competitors take an individual race win. Skylar Fore notched an NCAA B-cut time in the 100 butterfly, Abbie Dolan posted a victorious 500 freestyle swim in her season debut in that event to win by more than eight seconds, and the Irish added a winning swim in the 200 medley relay to kick off the meet.
“We swim as a team, so the momentum (from last weekend) is all group oriented,” Notre Dame head coach Mike Litzinger said. “They do a fantastic job of feeding off one another. We always say to celebrate your teammates’ performance, and that helps an awful lot especially in this situation. We are not together as a full team anymore but are in smaller units, but to have that momentum carrying into this meet is a huge boost and confidence is high.
“They will step forward and do their jobs, and it will be fun because this is an indicator for how the rest of the groups will do,” Litzinger added. “It will be great to watch them perform and inspire the ACC groups.”
Returning To OSU For Second Time This Season
Notre Dame returns to compete at Ohio State for the second time in the 2017-18 calendar year, as both the men’s and women’s teams posted third-place finishes at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion in November. Irish competitors logged more than 20 NCAA B-cut times during the Ohio State Fall Invitational, and Lindsay Stone and Zach Yeadon each set Irish record times in the 1650 freestyle.
“All of our dual meets, even though they are highly competitive, they are all rehearsals for meets like this,” Litzinger said. “I’ve said this since the earlier Ohio State Invite in the fall and the Shamrock Invitational, it is all about putting the kids in situations to continually repeat performance. I think we are ready for some excellent performances, and this group has worked super hard and is dedicated to the team. I think we will see great things from them this week.”
Ranked Foes On The Docket In Columbus
A number of fast teams will swim alongside Notre Dame during the weekend Ohio State Winter Invitational looking to reach top performance entering championship season. Ohio State, Kentucky and Purdue are among the additional ranked foes in the invitational field.
“The point of the Ohio State invite at this time of the year, this is known as a first-chance invitational,” Litzinger said. “We’re getting a good look at the future of our program, as many of these athletes are not on the ACC Championship teams. This is their opportunity to swim in a championship format, this is their peak meet. As coaches, we receive a lot of information from this meet and it serves as a first chance to qualify for the NCAA Championships, so if someone does something special this weekend they are moving on. Last year we were able to see the future of our team, and many of the athletes who were here last year are now on our ACC team this year. It’s an opportunity for us to showcase the work we have put in all year, and it is a peak meet for these athletes.”
Women’s ACC Championships Next Week In Greensboro
Notre Dame will officially open the 2018 ACC Swimming and Diving Championships next week, as the Irish women’s team and both Notre Dame diving squads will compete from Feb. 14-17 at the Greensboro Aquatic Center in Greensboro, North Carolina. The Notre Dame men’s swimmers will follow at the ACC Championships from Feb. 21-24 in Greensboro.
Tony Jones, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2012 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame softball, men’s soccer and swimming and diving programs. A native of Jamestown, New York, Jones is a 2011 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and prior to arriving at Notre Dame held positions at the University of Louisiana Monroe and with the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills.