Feb. 2, 2018
by Tony Jones
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – For the final time during the 2017-18 season, the University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams will take to the Rolfs Aquatic Center in competition. The No. 19 Irish play host to both Ball State and Green Bay in a tri-dual meet on Saturday, with racing set begin at 1 p.m. (ET).
The Notre Dame men’s side, fresh off a first-place finish at last weekend’s Shamrock Invitational in a field that featured No. 18 Ohio State and No. RV Iowa, has compiled a 7-2 record in dual action thus far this season. The Irish own head-to-head victories against No. 7 Louisville, No. 23 Purdue and No. 20 Florida State this season.
On the women’s ledger, Notre Dame also added a Shamrock Invitational win over a field that included No. 13 Ohio State and No. 18 Wisconsin. The Irish are a sterling 9-1 with four wins over the top 25, and a lone loss to now national No. 2 Texas A&M.
“This is one more chance to race, one more rep so to speak, before we truly settle down and focus in on the ACC meet,” Notre Dame head coach Mike Litzinger said. “We are at the top of our preparation and this meet really falls at a good spot for us. The people who have excelled for us in events during dual meets this year will take a bit of a step back and will still be competing of course, but we will let our young athletes get a shot at a first-team situation and let them shine a little bit.
“It will be a full team effort with two up and coming teams coming in with Ball State and Green Bay, so it is fun to race one more time as a team before we head to Greensboro.”
Updating The Record Board At Rolfs Aquatic Center
Notre Dame student-athletes set some eight facility records at the Rolfs Aquatic Center during the Shamrock Invitational, which included the men’s 200 medley relay (1:27.40) and the women’s 400 (3:17.05) and 800 (7:12.35) freestyle relays. Rob Whitacre swam the fastest 200 backstroke time ever at the Rolfs Aquatic Center (1:42.90), while Zach Yeadon posted the top pool time in the 1650 freestyle (15:02.06). The best swim of the weekend belonged to Lindsay Stone, who not only won the 1650 freestyle by nearly 20 seconds, but also set both the Notre Dame and Rolfs Aquatic Center record (16:12.78) with the fastest women’s Division I time in the distance last week in the process.
“The fact that we had a lot of high-level exposure earlier in the year was very important,” Litzinger said. “We’ve been through the ringer and we’ve come out feeling pretty good about what is now behind us. Now we’re on to what’s in front of us, dialing it in for that great swim and great dive at the championship meet.”
Notre Dame Performers Among The ACC Top 10
Entering the final dual meet of 2017-18, a number of Notre Dame swimmers and divers find themselves among the best of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) this season.
Freshman Zach Yeadon has posted the second-fastest 500 freestyle (4:14.93) and 1000 freestyle (8:56.18) times in the ACC, and his top 1650 freestyle (14:47.18) effort ranks third in the conference. Senior Justin Plaschka (19.60, sixth) and junior Daniel Speers (19.66, eighth) have thrown down top 50 freestyle times, with Speers also eighth in the 100 freestyle at 43.52. Plaschka has the fourth-fastest 100 butterfly time in the conference (46.84), while junior Steven Shek is seventh in the 100 breaststroke (54.26). Senior Rob Whitacre ranks second in the 200 backstroke (1:41.40) and 10th in the 100 backstroke (46.94). Senior Joe Coumos has the top 1-meter diving score (414.15 points) and ranks second off the 3-meter board (419.80 points).
Sophomore Abbie Dolan checks in ranked seventh in the 200 freestyle (1:45.90) and ninth in the 100 freestyle (48.94), while freshman Lindsay Stone has added top times in the 1000 freestyle (9:47.76, fourth), 1650 freestyle (16:12.78, fifth) and the 500 freestyle (4:45.10, ninth). Senior Molly Treble has also logged top swims in the 1000 freestyle (9:55.47, sixth), 1650 freestyle (16:29.36, ninth) and the 500 freestyle (4:45.18, 10th). Other top times have been posted by freshman Carly Quast in the 100 backstroke (52.27, third), junior Alice Treuth in the 100 backstroke (52.84, seventh) and 200 backstroke (1:54.77, seventh), junior Meaghan O’Donnell in the 100 breaststroke (1:01.27, seventh) and junior Nicole Smith in the 200 butterfly (1:57.01, fifth). Sophomore Erin Isola moved into 10th in the conference in the 1-meter dive with a score of 301.80 points at the Shamrock Invitational.
One Last Swim At Home
Notre Dame officially closes its season at the Rolfs Aquatic Center this weekend with its tri-dual meet with Ball State and Green Bay. The Irish men’s team has compiled a 3-1 home dual record and Shamrock Invitational title, while the Notre Dame women’s lineup has added a matching dual mark and Shamrock victory thus far.
With Senior Day recognition already taking place last weekend, Notre Dame’s senior class will have one last day to compete in its home pool after an impactful four years with the Irish.
“To honor our seniors last week, it really fulfilled a few different purposes,” Litzinger said. “Doing it last week over two days gave everyone the maximum time to compete, and with this Saturday being a shortened event schedule for us we moved the Senior Day meet to last weekend. Still, it’s always sentimental. For some of these kids it’s the last competitive splash in our pool, and there will be some emotion there.
“Mostly it signals the culmination of a great dual meet season, and our seniors can be proud that they helped make a transition,” Litzinger added. “To finish a fall season with only one loss for the women and two for the men is pretty substantial, and the losses were to teams that are ranked above us. There is a lot to be proud of.”
Final Dual Sets Stage For The Postseason
The dual meet with Ball State and Green Bay will be the final full meet of the season for Notre Dame before the championship slate begins. Select swimmers and divers will travel to the Ohio State Winter Invitational on Feb. 10-11, leading into the ACC Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships from Feb. 14-17 in Greensboro, North Carolina. The ACC Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships are slated for Feb. 21-24 in Greensboro.
“We are all kind of at the same spot of the year with our training, but this weekend will allow our depth to take a step forward,” Litzinger said. “Certain kids will have a chance to win events in a competitive situation where normally they would be after a third or a fourth, put the burden on them. It prepares you for life down the line when our older athletes graduate and the younger ones will be asked to fill those roles. It will be a lot of fun for all three teams this weekend.”
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.