Oct. 6, 2017
By Leigh Torbin
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -The No. 17/25 Notre Dame swimming and diving teams shook out the offseason cobwebs and shook off some Golden Grizzlies, Sycamores and Tigers but were unable to eclipse the No. 7/9 Cardinals of Louisville as the Irish placed second in the annual Dennis Stark Relays on Friday evening at the Rolfs Aquatic Center.
The meet ebbed-and-flowed before Louisville’s men topped Notre Dame, 130-128, and the women prevailed, 134-130, as an aggregate total of just six points separated the ACC rivals.
The Irish claimed 10 of the 22 events in the off-beat annual meet named in honor of the program’s first varsity coach. Among the unusual events are a series of 300 yard relays along with both synchronized and relay diving events.
The evening saw 14 meet records fall in the 54th edition of the relays, including six benchmarks established by the Irish. Among the half dozen Notre Dame records were the climactic men’s and women’s 400 meter freestyle relays which closed the meet in a pair of narrow Irish victories and were met by boisterous roars from the home crowd. In addition to the relay marks, Abbie Dolan set a Rolfs Aquatic Center record with her 1:46.69 leg of Notre Dame’s 800 freestyle squad and Louisville’s Mallory Comerford put her name into the facility record books with a 52.96 100-yard leg of the meet-opening 300-yard butterfly relay.
“It was a great meet,” Irish head coach Mike Litzinger said. “It was a lot of fun and all of the teams raced hard. It was a good way to knock the dust off everybody as a prelude to tomorrow. I think we’re getting set up to see some great swims tomorrow.”
Notre Dame swimmers and divers claimed the following event titles on Friday evening:
– Men’s 300 Backstroke Relay (2:26.29*) — Rob Whitacre, Jack Montesi, Will Cumberland
– Women’s 300 Breaststroke Relay (3:09.94*) — Meaghan O’Donnell, Sherri McIntee, Alyssa Storino
– Men’s 300 Breaststroke Relay (2:50.45) — Garrett Clarke, Steven Shrek, Rex Riley
– Women’s 1500 Freestyle Relay (14:47.50*) — Lindsay Stone, Alice Treuth, Molly Treble
– Men’s 200 Freestyle Relay (1:21.31*) — Justin Plaschka, Daniel Speers, Dan Fujan, Tabahn Afrik
– Women’s 1-Meter Relay Diving (544.10) — Claire Andrews and Erin Isola
– Men’s 1-Meter Relay Diving (625.75) — Joe Coumos and David Waszak
– Women’s 400 Freestyle Relay (3:19.47*) — Abbie Dolan, Rachel Wittmer, Lauren Heller, Sofia Revilak
– Men’s 400 Freestyle Relay (2:58.11*) — Tabahn Afrik, Justin Plaschka, Aaron Schultz, Daniel Speers
– Women’s 3-Meter Synchronized Diving (234.36) — Erin Isola and Kelly Straub
* denotes meet records
Coach Litzinger Said
“The key takeaways for us are racing hard and competing. That was evident especially in the last event, the 4×100 freestyle relay. Both of our teams could have let the meet get out of hand and go away but our teams kept fighting and I think that’s a great tribute to their competitive spirit which is what we’re trying to do here at Notre Dame.”
Former BIG EAST foes reunited in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Notre Dame and Louisville will swim alongside together on Saturday afternoon to open the dual meet portion of the season. Unlike Friday’s relays, the Louisville meet will have a more conventional 32-event format.
Coming on Saturday? How to Get Here
Due to renovations to the Joyce Center’s fieldhouse which restrict access to Gate 5, swimming and diving fans are encouraged to take a slightly different route to access the Rolfs Aquatic Center. Fans should park in the Bulla Lot and then access the Joyce Center through Gate 2 which is on the west side of the building near the men’s basketball office. Fans can then proceed through Heritage Hall to the Rolfs spectator balcony.
Leigh Torbin, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2013. A native of Framingham, Massachusetts, Torbin graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in sports management. He has previously worked full-time on the athletic communications staffs at Vanderbilt, Florida, Connecticut and UCF.