NOTRE DAME, Indiana — The University of Notre Dame Swim and Dive teams (21/23) will open up the 2020-21 season this week with a two-day meet, hosting the University of Pittsburgh (RV/–). The meet will begin Friday and continue to Saturday, with separate sessions for the men and the women.
Notre Dame comes off a shortened 2019-20 season placing fifth (women) and sixth (men) at the ACC Championships. The men posted a 2019-20 dual-meet record of 7-4, while the women earned a 9-3 record.
The Irish boasted 20 CSCAA All-Americans for 2019-20 and 19 members on the All-ACC Academic Team. In addition, Notre Dame swimmers reached the podium at the ACC Championships six times, with two individual conference titles. Sophomore swimmer Jack Hoagland was named men’s ACC Freshman of the Year for swimming. In total, Irish swimmers and divers were honored as ACC Performers of the Week on 11 occasions in 2019-20. In the postseason, 11 Notre Dame swimmers qualified for the NCAA Championships, and the Zone Diving meet was cut short due to COVID-19.
This fall, with the resuming of in-person classes, the Irish returned to the pool, with new faces on the coaching staff. Mark Bradshaw, Olympian and two-time NCAA Diving Coach of the Year, joined the Notre Dame staff as head diving coach after the retirement of longtime diving coach Caiming Xie, and Becca Weiland, former head women’s coach at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, was brought on as an assistant coach.
“I’m looking forward to taking on this next-level challenge at Notre Dame. I have known Caiming Xie since our time together with the Olympic team, and I have much respect for the program he has built,” Bradshaw noted. “Talking to the staff at Notre Dame, our goals aligned with the idea of achieving at a high level not just in our sport, but for our university as well.”
“I am incredibly honored to be granted the opportunity to work with some of the best student-athletes and coaches in the nation,” Weiland expressed. “The University of Notre Dame has a rich history filled with exciting campus traditions, elite-level academics, campus pride and overall program success. I am looking forward to what the future will bring at Notre Dame and being a part of the Fighting Irish family.”
Notre Dame’s men open the season at No. 21 in the CSCAA preseason poll, and the Irish women begin 2020-21 ranked No. 23.
“Competing is something that we’ve been looking forward to, and obviously, we train to compete; we just don’t train to train,” Notre Dame head swimming coach Mike Litzinger said. “We’ve been training an awful lot lately, which is great, and we’re happy to be in our environment with minimal interruption.
“The competitive spirit of the team is ramping up, and it’s what they do best,” Litzinger, entering his sixth season at the helm of the program, added.
In keeping with a modified schedule across college athletics, the Irish take on a five-meet regular season slate prior to the postseason in February. Notre Dame will open against Pitt at home Nov. 6-7 for a conference dual meet.
Next, the Irish will travel the short distance to Indianapolis to take on IUPUI and Cincinnati Dec. 4-5 to finish out the Fall slate.
When Notre Dame returns in 2021, the Irish will travel to Cleveland for a dual meet against Cleveland State Jan. 16, and will return home the next weekend to host the annual Shamrock Invitational Jan. 22-23.
Notre Dame closes out the regular season with a dual meet with West Virginia in Morgantown from Jan. 29-30.
From there, the Irish head into the postseason, with the ACC Championships in Greensboro beginning with the women Feb. 17-20 and continuing with the men Feb. 24-27. The diving team will continue to the NCAA Zone C Diving Championships March 12-14 in Ann Arbor. The season concludes with the NCAA Championships back in Greensboro, with the women March 17-21 and the men March 24-27.
With seven of 11 NCAA qualifiers returning for the Irish in 2020-21, the veteran roster is strong, and according to Litzinger, will be well-supported by new faces in the freshman class.
Swimmers including sophomores Hoagland, a three-time ACC medalist, and ACC bronze medalist Coleen Gillilan return for the Irish, among other strong upperclassmen divers such as Kelly Straub, Annie Wiese, Austin Flaute and David Petrison. Litzinger noted that veterans Bayley Stewart, Luciana Thomas, Cason Wilburn, Brendan Santana and Josh Bottelberghe were swimmers to watch, along with newcomers.
“[Freshman] Sydney Whiting is really exceptional and can follow in the long line of 200 freestylers that we’ve had in this program,” he noted. “[Sophomore] Ellie Jew, a breaststroker and transfer from Arizona, is going to make an impact.”
Notre Dame hosts Pitt in the first dual meet of the season for both teams. The meet will consist of four sessions, two each on Friday and Saturday. The women will compete first each day, followed by the men. The expanded meet schedule is due to COVID-19 protocols and safety measures to ensure physical distancing. In accordance with health guidelines, no spectators will be permitted to attend either day of the meet.
Team: Pitt (RV/–)
Date: Nov. 6-7, 2020
Time: 10 a.m. both days (women), 1:30 p.m. both days (men)
Location: Rolfs Aquatic Center (Notre Dame, IN)
Live timing: und.com/swimmingstats
Note: No spectators permitted due to health guidelines
Litzinger’s scout: “Pittsburgh is very well-coached, and they are a program that’s on the rise. Every year since Coach [John] Hargis has been there, they’ve gotten better and better and better at the ACC and NCAA level.
“I expect them to be in the same position we are: We don’t have a lot of opportunities competitively this fall, so people are always going to give you their best shots, and I expect no less from Pittsburgh.”