Feb. 17, 2016
By Tristan Vitale ’19
Ella Moynihan is a freshman freestyler from Denver, Colorado. A former state champion from Arapahoe High School, she is swimming in her first Atlantic Coast Conference Championship meet this week. She specializes in middle-distance freestyle races, holding the team’s fastest times this season in the 200 free and the 500 free, but has shown versatility in her ability to compete well in a variety of other events.
Q: What was your favorite memory from this season?
A: “It happened just a few weeks ago at the Shamrock Invitational. We had disqualified our 400 free relay at our Purdue Invitational [in the fall], so we wanted to get a better seeding time for the ACC Championships coming up. Our 400 free relay suited up and with high expectations on us, we broke the pool record. That was pretty exciting. I would say that was the highlight of the season.”
Q: If you could play any sport other than swimming, what would it be?
A: “Probably lacrosse. My brother plays lacrosse and it’s really cool and I really like it, so I’ve gotten to know it. I know girls lacrosse is a little different than boys lacrosse, but I think it would be cool.”
Q: If you could trade places with any person for a day, who would it be?
A: “One of the Kardashians to see what the hype’s about. Live a day in the life and be pampered for a day.”
Q: If you could trade places with any of your teammates for a day, who would it be?
A: “Nikki (Nicole Smith), she’s a freshman and claims that she never has homework, and she takes a lot of naps, so I would trade places with her for sure.”
Q: What is your spirit animal?
A: “A panda bear. They don’t do anything and they sleep and they’re really cute and cuddly. That’s my goal.”
Q: What is coach Litzinger’s spirit animal?
A: “Probably a lion because they can be really lazy and not seem very aggressive, and then they can have their moments where they are really aggressive and loud, and that’s him. He has his soft side and his wild side.”
Q: Do you have any guilty pleasures?
A: “Gummy candy. It’s not a good one, but I could eat it all day.”
Q: Who is your favorite professional athlete?
A: “Elizabeth Beisel. She’s a swimmer, and she is never caught up in the moment and that’s really hard to do in swimming.”
Q: What is one thing you can’t live without?
A: “My mother. I talk to her every single day, the entire day, and she sends me care packages probably every other day, so I think I would die without her.”
Q: What is your favorite thing to get at the dining hall?
A: “Probably ice cream. Peanut butter cup is my favorite, but if they don’t have it then I go for soft serve.”
Q: What is one question you hate being asked?
A: “One thing I hate about swimming is when people come up to you and ask, “Did you win?” because it’s such a more complicated thing than that. You can race the clock, but you don’t have to necessarily be first in your heat to have a good race, so I really hate that question. “
Q: How long have you been swimming for, and how did you get started?
A: “I’ve been swimming for coming up on 13 years. I got started in summer rec swimming when I was little, the same way most people do it around the neighborhood, just splashing around and having fun, and then I started further and further into club swimming, but just in my neighborhood.”
Q: Have you ever had any embarrassing moments involving swimming?
A: “One time I missed my race because a boy came to watch me swim and I was talking to him instead. My coach did not like that one.”
Q: Do you have any other special talents or hobbies?
A: “No, the thing about swimmers is that we’re really bad at anything else because we can’t do anything on land. Actually though, I really like to ski. I’m from Colorado and I really love skiing. I obviously can’t do it in Indiana because it’s flat, but if I could, I would ski all the time.”
Q: As a state champion in high school, you must have gotten many offers from colleges. Why Notre Dame?
A: “I think it’s a good balance because the school values its academics just as highly as its athletics. You’re not here just for your sport, you’re here to get a solid foundation for the rest of your life, so I think it’s the school that’s most able to prepare you for the future.”
Q: As a Broncos fan, what did you do for the Super Bowl?
A: “We went to the senior girls’ house and they made a bunch of treats that were all football shaped. They made a fruit bowl out of a watermelon that was in the shape of a helmet, and they made brownies in the shape of footballs, so we basically ate a lot of food and watched the game.”
Q: What is your relationship with Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin?
A: “I’ve been swimming with her since…forever. She lived in the neighborhood across the street from me and we went to the same middle school and then we swam at rival high schools, so I competed with her all the way through until college, so I know her pretty well.”
Q: Have you ever beaten Missy Franklin in a race?
A: “I think maybe in the 25 free when we were really little, like 7 years old. And then I also claim that I won states in my freshman year when I came in second to her because she doesn’t count as first place in high school swimming.”
Q: As a freshman, you were graced with the opportunity of going to Domerfest. What did you think of it?
A: “I went for about 10 minutes and it was … awkward. A bunch of just really awkward people that didn’t know what to do with themselves.”
Q: So it was the peak of your life?
A: “Probably the most exciting thing I’ve ever been to. I feel like after that moment, everything just went downhill from there.”