Jan. 11, 2018
by Tony Jones
NOTRE DAME, Ind. ÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢’Â¬” On the heels of its midseason competitive recess for both the end of the first semester and holiday break, the University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams mark their official return to the water this weekend. The No. 20/22 Irish collide with Iowa and Illinois in a tri-dual meet on Friday and Saturday at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center in Iowa City, Iowa.
Returning From Training Trip To Florida
As the Notre Dame campus-wide winter break began to wind down with the approach of the spring semester, the Irish took full advantage of the competitive lull to train and ring in the new year with a two-week trip to Naples, Florida. Notre Dame returned to campus Wednesday evening and trained at the Rolfs Aquatic Center on Thursday morning before departing for Iowa City.
“Being together as a team in the environment we had in Naples was very special and it allowed us to concentrate on one thing, being great athletes every day,” Notre Dame head coach Mike Litzinger said. “Not that we don’t regularly, but it was intensified in that environment. The first half of the trip we did a fantastic job of finishing off our base work, and everyone came back ready to go. For four days or so, we ran into some of the crazy weather that was around the rest of the country but we finished very strong. We had a great close of the training camp and are ready to head to the University of Iowa.”
Recapping The Fall Irish Slate
The Notre Dame women’s team, ranked 22nd in the most recent College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) poll, raced out of the blocks to a 6-1 dual meet record that featured wins over No. 9 Louisville (Oct. 7), No. 16 Purdue (Oct. 27) and No. 9 Indiana (Nov. 9). The No. 20 Irish men’s squad has added a 5-2 dual mark that included victories against No. 7 Louisville and No. 23 Purdue.
Notre Dame closed its fall schedule with a pair of third-place finishes at the Ohio State Fall Invitational that was held Nov. 17-19 in Columbus, Ohio. The Notre Dame men’s team scored 676.50 points in a field that featured No. 5 NC State, No. 16 Ohio State and No. RV Kentucky, while the Irish women secured 656 points against No. 12 NC State, No. 17 Kentucky and No. 23 Ohio State.
Taking On Iowa And Illinois In Iowa City
Notre Dame returns to the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center at Iowa for the first time since competing in the Hawkeye Invitational on the men’s side in December of 2014. Through the decades of Irish men’s swimming and diving, in particular, many of the fastest non-championship competition swims in program history were logged in Iowa City.
“The Iowa men and women are much improved from a year ago, and they have had some great dual meet wins early on,” Litzinger said. “Illinois is also on an upswing. It’s a challenge for all teams coming off the Christmas break, and you never truly know where you are until the starting horn goes off. We’ve worked hard enough and this is just the beginning of introducing key speed work to our team. Two-day meets like this against Iowa and Illinois, and two days next week at Florida State, will be the introduction to that.
“Notre Dame has previously competed at Iowa in an invitational format, which is a different type of preparation, but it is a fast pool where they have hosted NCAAs in the past,” Litzinger added. “What makes swimming Iowa special for me is their head coach, Marc Long, I coached as a graduate assistant at Iowa in the late 1980s. Marc is a great guy and a good coach, He was a multiple-time Big Ten champion in the butterfly, it’s a lot of fun to renew relationships like that. It will be fun for us to swim against each other.”
Latest ACC Test Next Weekend At Florida State
Following its return this weekend in Iowa City, Notre Dame travels to Tallahassee, Florida, for a dual showdown with the host Seminoles on Jan. 19-20 at the outdoor Morcom Aquatics Center. The Irish have previously competed against fellow ACC foes Louisville (Oct. 7), Georgia Tech (Oct. 20), NC State (Nov. 17-19) and Pittsburgh (Nov. 17-19) earlier this season. Florida State’s men’s squad is ranked 19th in the country according to the latest CSCAA Division I poll, with the Seminole women among the programs receiving votes in the national top 25.
“We’re going to knock the competitive dust off us this weekend (at Iowa),” Litzinger said. “We’ll be able to see where we’re standing in terms of training production and moving into the next phase, our speed training. The more times you have an opportunity to get off the blocks from now until February, it’s about working on your craft. Sharpening your skills, working on relay takeoffs, putting relay combinations together that you will have entering the ACC Championship meet. Iowa, Illinois and Florida State all have great relays, and those are double-points at the end of the day, so we have to match up, practice and put stock in our relays.”
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.