Feb. 28, 2015
ATLANTA, Ga. – The University of Notre Dame men’s swim team improved from their sixth place finish of 2014 at the ACC Conference Championships, claiming fifth place in 2015 with 675 points. The Irish broke three school records, with multiple swimmers earning NCAA B cuts and several individuals setting new personal best times.
“Coming in fifth was perhaps the best we could place as a team,” Irish head coach Matt Tallman said. “Throughout the weekend our guys were able to race really well at night. They moved up in key spots where they needed to in order to get big points, and when it came down to crunch time with Georgia Tech, I was glad to see them step up like that.”
Saturday morning, the Irish competed in the preliminaries of the 200 back, 100 free, 200 breast and 200 fly events. In the early afternoon, the 1650 free event was swum, with the finals and the 400 free relay concluding the meet.
In the 200 back, Robert Whitacre had the top time for the Irish in the morning (1:44.45), followed by sophomore Tom Anderson (1:44.71) and junior Bogac Ayhan (1:44.75). In the evening, Whitacre broke the school record and swam a new personal best, 1:43.87, finishing in 10th. Anderson placed 11th (1:44.11), with Ayhan finishing 13th (1:44.57). Ayhan’s time also stands as a personal best in the event.
“This morning I didn’t swim the race as well as I wanted to; I took the first 100 a bit too fast,” Whitacre explained. “In talking with my coaches, tonight I just tried to swim the race a little bit smarter, take it a little slower in the first 50. I swam it the way I wanted to, I wasn’t thinking about the record at all, I just tried to focus on getting the points for the team which we needed to come in fifth today.”
In the 100 free, Justin Plaschka again was the sole freestylist for the Irish. His 44.18 prelim time earned him a spot in the evening’s B final, where he won the heat, 44.03.
In the 200 breast, seniors Cameron Miller (1:57.79), Zachary Stephens (1:58.19) and Patrick Olson (2:00.45) all advanced into the evening finals, with junior Andrew Jensen finishing just shy of a qualifying time (2:01.69). In the C final, Stephens came in 17th (1:57.31) and Olson placed 23rd (2:01.28). Miller, swimming in the B final, earned a time of 1:57.21, good for 11th place.
In the 200 fly, Kevin Bradley notched a new personal best time of 1:46.29 and advance to the B final, while senior Jonathan Williamson earned a swim in the A final with his 1:44.53 cut. He went on to place fifth (1:43.57) and earn an invitation to the NCAA Championships next March, while Bradley placed 13th and earned a B-cut time of 1:47.01.
In the 1650 free, pool record-holder John Nappi bested fellow classmate Kevin Hughes’ school record time by .08 of a second, finishing in 11th (15:14.62). Freshman Benjamin Jany earned a B cut with his 15th-place, 15:19.78 time, and Bradley swam a personal best with his 15:32.05 time. Trent Jackson (15:40.09), Joseph Petrone (15:44.56) and Matthew DeBlasio (15:52.07) also swam the mile for the Irish, with DeBlasio’s time standing as a personal best.
“I really wanted to break the record to end my collegiate career; I’m glad I was able to do that,” Nappi stated. “I went a bit slower than I was hoping, but at the end of the meet, I can’t complain; it’s been a good four years at Notre Dame, and this was a good way to end it.”
In the 400 free relay, the Irish lineup of Plaschka, Stephens, Jackson and Fujan won their heat with a time of 2:56.03, finishing in seventh overall and claiming 46 team points.
When asked if he could name a team MVP for the week, Tallman stated, “Honestly, I don’t think I can. If you go by the numbers, Kevin Bradley had the highest number of best times; but there were some guys on more relays than others; there’s guys not rested for the meet. This truly was a total team effort throughout the whole week.”
With the conference championships now over, several swimmers will participate in a long course qualifier Sunday, before the team heads back to South Bend. The qualifier, taking place at 11 a.m. ET, stands as a chance to earn a shot at the summer U.S. Olympic Trials. “For some guys, next year starts tomorrow; for others, we have some things to talk about for next week, and finalize our plans for NCAAs in March,” says Tallman.
2015 ACC Men’s Swimming Championship – Final Scores
North Carolina State – 1331 points
Louisville – 1178.5 points
Virginia Tech – 1123 points
North Carolina – 1062.5 points
Notre Dame – 675 points
Georgia Tech – 663.5 points
Florida State – 619 points
Virginia – 618 points
Duke – 435 points
Pittsburgh – 369.5 points
Boston College – 179 points
Miami – 105 points
Notre Dame Program Records
200 Back – Robert Whitacre – 1:43.87
1650 Free – John Nappi – 15:14.62
Notre Dame `B’ Time Standards
Rob Whitacre – 1:44.45 (Prelims)
Tom Anderson – 1:44.71 (Prelims)
Bogac Ayhan – 1:44.75 (Prelims)
Rob Whitacre – 1:43.87 (Finals)
Tom Anderson – 1:44.11 (Finals)
Bogac Ayhan – 1:44.57 (Finals)
Justin Plaschka – 44.18 (Prelims)
Justin Plaschka – 44.03 (Finals)
Cameron Miller – 1:57.79 (Prelims)
Zachary Stephens – 1:58.19 (Prelims)
Patrick Olson – 2:00.45 (Prelims)
Cameron Miller – 1:57.21 (Finals)
Zachary Stephens – 1:57.31 (Finals)
Jonathan Williamson – 1:44.53 (Prelims)
Kevin Bradley – 1:46.29 (Prelims)
Jonathan Williamson – 1:43.57 (Finals)
Kevin Bradley – 1:47.01 (Finals)
John Nappi – 15:14.62
Benjamin Jany – 15:19.78
Media Services Coordinator