April 23, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The University of Notre Dame men’s swimming and diving program received word Thursday afternoon that incoming freshman sprinter Dan Speers has been selected to compete in the 2015 European Games as a member of the British National Team.
This occasion marks the first time that a swimmer with ties to the Fighting Irish program has competed on a national team since MacKenzie LeBlanc competed with the Canadian National Team at the 2008 Tri-Nations Cup., taking gold in the 200m fly. Prior to LeBlanc, Andrew MacKay swam in the 2004 Olympics as a member of the Cayman Islands National Team, finishing 41st in the 200 IM and 33rd in the 400 IM.
“We are extremely excited for Dan; he is a tremendous talent that will only help our program advance,” Irish head coach Matt Tallman says. “Now he has a great opportunity to race for his country before he comes across the pond to train with us.”
“It is a huge honor to have been selected to represent my country,” Speers says. “The European Games are my first taste of international competition, and I hope it will provide me with invaluable experience as I continue my swimming journey to the University of Notre Dame.”
The European Games are on par with the Asian Games, Pan-American Games, All-Africa Games and Pacific Games, and are the first “continental” games to be inaugurated in Europe. Held June 12 through 28, they were designed to take after the tradition of the Olympics. The decision to hold the first ever European Games was made at the 41st General Assembly of the European Olympic Committees (EOC) on December 8, 2012, with Baku being awarded the right to host the inaugural games in 2015.
The Games were designed to be regulated by EOC, and a total of 20 sports — 16 Olympic and four non-Olympic — will be in competition, featuring 253 medal events in total. 12 sports — archery, athletics, volleyball, boxing, cycling, judo, shooting, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, triathlon and wrestling — will also offer qualification opportunities for the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics. The swimming events will take place Tuesday, June 23 through Saturday, June 27.
Looking ahead to 2015-16, Speers, one of 10 early signees for the Irish, looks to join current freshman Justin Plaschka and future classmates Tabahn Afrik and David Stewart in rebuilding the sprint freestyle core for the Irish. He competed as a member of the England Talent Programme from 2010 to 2014, and boasts several top-finishes to his name.
Speers was crowned the British Junior National Champion in the 50m free, ages 17-18, and won the British National Championship as a member of the 400m free relay team. He finished second in the 50m free and 12th in the 100m free in the 15-16 year old age group, and raced to second place in the 200m breaststroke in the 13-14 age group. He won the 100m free at the 2012 UK school games, and during his junior campaign was part of a prep team at the Millfield School that broke the national high school records in both the 200m free and 200m relay en route to winning the national title. He came in second that same season in the 50m free.
For continual updates leading into the European Games, check out http://www.baku2015.com/index.html or follow them on Twitter, @BakuGames2015. For all news pertaining to Notre Dame Swimming, check out the team’s social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter @NDSwimming.
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