NOTRE DAME, Ind. — As the snow begins to fall on the picturesque campus of the University of Notre Dame, the swim and dive program heads into the holiday break with both teams ranked in the national poll and with a stellar start to the season. The women’s team boasts a near perfect record of 7-0-1 in dual meets and swam to a second-place team finish at the Ohio State Fall Invitational to close out the 2018 year. The men’s squad has overcome great challenges early in the season, defeating four teams nationally ranked in the TYR/CSCAA Top-25 at the time of the meet, including a victory over 11th-ranked Ohio State at the annual Ohio State Fall Invitational in Columbus, Ohio.
The women’s team also has a few notable wins over ranked opponents, posting a 2-0-1 record to start the dual meet season with wins over Kentucky (12th) and Missouri (20th) while tying Indiana (ninth). Their last time out saw victories over the now 18th-ranked Wildcats of Kentucky and the 23rd-ranked Ohio State team when they finished second behind Stanford who ranks third in the nation heading into the new year.
Both teams head into the second half of the season in the top-25 nationally with the women ranked 15th overall and the men in 23rd. Both teams entered the season ranked in the national poll before moving up in the numbers following wins over Georgia Tech, Miami and Purdue. The men peaked at 18th this season in week two of the poll while the women jumped all the way up to 13th that week after beginning the season 18th in the country.
“I am incredibly proud of our teams at this point of the season,” head coach Mike Litzinger said. “We are swimming and diving at an incredibly high level, both in training and the competition pool.”
This fall, five individuals have set school or Rolfs Aquatic Center records, including Marci Barta, Aaron Schultz, Zach Yeadon, Nikki Smith and Lindsay Stone.
The Hungary native, Barta, now holds both a pool and school record in the 400 IM in his first season with the Irish. Against Pitt and Virginia Tech in early November, he swam a 3:49.75 400 IM to break the previous Rolfs Aquatics Center record of 3:52.34. Later that month, at the Ohio State Invitational, he shaved over eight seconds off his previous best to set the new Notre Dame school record in the event with a time of 3:41.67 which is second in the nation heading into the break.
Aaron Schultz recorded a historically best time for the Irish in the 200 fly at the Ohio State Fall Invitational, touching the wall in 1:42.90, becoming the first Notre Dame swimmer to break the 1:43.00 mark.
Sophomore Zach Yeadon, who anchored the team in 2017-18, has returned to the pool where he continues to break multiple records. In the two day dual meet against Pitt and Virginia Tech, Yeadon broke two pool records in as many days. First, in the 1,000 free, he boasted a time of 8:58.55, besting the previous pool record of 9:02.47 which he set during his freshman season. In the men’s 500 free, Yeadon, following his record breaking performance in the 1,000 free yesterday, set a Rolfs Aquatics Center pool record with his final time of 4:20.34, breaking the previous record of 4:21.66 which he set last season.
Two women have set school records this season as well, with Nikki Smith setting the record in the 200 fly before breaking it again less than 12 hours later in the finals of the Ohio State Fall Invitational. Swimming a 1:56.18 during the morning session, she came back in the evening to post a 1:55.23 and program best time.
Lindsay Stone shattered two records in a single swim earlier this season, breaking the 1,000 and 1,650 free records as she swam to a time of 16:06.42. Her 1,000 split time of 9:43.05 was also a program best.
In the national standings 11 individuals have combined for 16 top-25 times thus far in 2018-19 highlighted by three Irish swimmers holding a season-best time in the top-10 in Marci Barta (second, 400 IM), Zach Yeadon (third, 1,000 & 1,650 free; seventh, 500 free) and Lindsay Stone (seventh, 1,000 free). Four individuals hold more than one top-25 time with Yeadon leading the group with three. Jack Montesi, Marci Barta and Lindsay Thomas all have two season-best times that make the cut while Sadler McKeen, Brendan Santana, Aaron Schultz, Carly Quast, Alice Treuth, Nikki Smith and Luciana Thomas boast one a piece.
Five relay teams hold times in the top-25 nationally, including the men’s 800 free and 200 medley relays as well as the women’s 200 free, 400 free and 200 medley relays.
In total, 19 of the 21 total top-finishing times were set at the final meet of 2018, the Ohio State Fall Invitational where many Irish swimmers recorded season-best times. All five relays recorded their season bests at the meet while McKeen, Montesi, Santana, Schultz, Stone, Quast, Treuth, Smith and Thomas all set their best times of the season at the meet to crack the top-25.
On top of successful times and national recognition in the pool, various individuals have earned conference honors, being named the Atlantic Coast Conference Swimmer of the Week. Zach Yeadon earned the first ACC honor of the season for the team, earning the recognition on October 23 following his then NCAA-best time of 15:17.10 in the 1,650 free. He won all three of his individual events at Georgia Tech, including in consecutive events when he finished first in the 1,650 free before touching the wall in 1:37.37 in the 200 free.
Abbie Dolan was named swimmer of the week by the league on November 5 for her weekend of competition versus Virginia Tech and Pitt where she posted seven first-place finishes. She led the women’s team to a dominating sweep over both schools to improve their season record to 7-0-1. In all three of her individual events at the weekend meet, Dolan earned NCAA B cuts and held seven NCAA top-20 best-times at the time, six of which she swam that weekend.
After the teams’ strong start to the season, head coach Mike Litzinger was named Coach of the Month by Competitor for the month of October. He earned the honor as the women posted their best start to a season since 2016-17 winning five straight, including three considerably large margins of victory.
“The Ohio State Invitational was just a glimpse of what we are capable of,” Litzinger added. “Now, our goals shift to some maintenance work through the final exam period and on to a great holiday training camp in Naples, Florida, which will all culminate in championship preparation for February/March.”
Both teams will head south for the holiday break, as they train in Florida before diving back in the pool for the second half of the season. To begin the 2019 calendar year, the squads look to divide and conquer January 11 and 12 with the women competing in Illinois against the Fighting Illini and the Iowa Hawkeyes (Jan. 11) and the men heading farther west to Iowa to take on the men’s Hawkeye team in Iowa City (Jan. 12). The annual Shamrock series will conclude the home season when they return to Rolfs Aquatics Center for the two-day, three-session event. The Irish have one more dual meet remaining on their schedule, a trip to East Lansing, Michigan to take on the Michigan State Spartans in a non-conference matchup. The final regular season meet of the season includes a trip back to Columbus, Ohio for the Ohio State Winter Invitational, a two-day event before the ACC Championships start the following week.
Irish in the College Swimming Top-25
3rd — 1,000 free, 8:51.78 (OSU Invite)
3rd — 1,650 free, 14:39.60 (OSU Invite)
7th — 500 free, 4:13.68 (ACC/B1G)
23rd — 500 free, 4:17.10 (OSU Invite)
22nd — 50 back, 21.69 (OSU Invite)
23rd — 100 back, 46.43 (OSU Invite)
25th — 50 back, 21.76 (OSU Invite)
14th — 200 fly, 1:42.90 (OSU Invite)
2nd — 400 IM, 3:41.67 (OSU Invite)
19th — 100 IM, 50.88 (GT/Miami)
12th — 800 free, 6:21.58 (OSU Invite)
24th — 200 medley relay, 1:26.41 (OSU Invite)
7th — 1,000 free, 9:43.05 (OSU Invite)
14th — 1,650 free, 16:06.42 (OSU Invite)
15th — 50 back, 24.61 (OSU Invite)
16th — 200 back, 1:53.56 (OSU Invite)
15th — 200 fly, 1:55.23 (OSU Invite)
16th — 200 fly, 1:55.31 (OSU Invite)
19th — 200 free relay, 1:29.72 (OSU Invite)
22nd — 200 medley, 1:38.20 (OSU Invite)
23rd — 400 free relay, 3:17.51 (OSU Invite)