NOTRE DAME, Indiana — The No. 21/RV Notre Dame Swim and Dive team opens the 2021 slate playing host to No. 13/14 Louisville in a dual meet on Saturday, January 9. It marks the first meet against an ACC opponent for the Irish this season.
“It’s always great to compete against another ACC team. Louisville and Notre Dame are the furthest-west schools in the ACC, so we’re able to have those competitions, and it always brings out the best in each team,” Notre Dame head swim coach Mike Litzinger noted. “We’ve gone down there and competed well, they’ve come up here and competed well, and there’s some really great opportunities for high performance in those competitions.”
With Louisville and Notre Dame also former conference members in the Big East, the connections and competition history runs deep between the two programs, and serves as an opportunity for fierce, yet productive, competition.
“It becomes, ‘I want to show you what I can do. I know I’m going to do my very best against you, and you’ll do your very best against me, and I will respect you for that.’ That’s the theme of the meet for the weekend.” Litzinger added.
The Irish return from a holiday training camp schedule, which was largely undertaken individually. Entering January, the focus now shifts towards preparation for championship swims.
“Everything is now geared towards championship-level performance for the middle and end of February,” Litzinger shared. “The races right now are stepping stones to the championship-level meets. We change up our training quite a bit.”
Additionally, the Irish return to campus prior to the resuming of classes, which allows student-athletes the opportunity to focus on training.
“We’re in our own bubble right now, and without full-time classes going on, we are able to have a training camp and a training bubble, which is great,” Litzinger attested. “I’ve asked the athletes to focus on making this the most productive time that they can, because it is a unique situation. We do have the advantage of being here, being at home in familiar surroundings, but again, we have to look ahead and use all those things, all those tools that we have being here on campus to prepare for championship-level performance.”
Team: No. 13/14 Louisville
Date: January 9, 2021
Location: Rolfs Aquatic Center (Notre Dame, IN)
Live timing: und.com/swimmingstats
Note: No spectators permitted due to health guidelines
Litzinger’s Scout: “Relays are always key. On the men’s side, they sprint incredibly well. We have great distance athletes. The reality of it is that it will be a back-and-forth competition between the men. I wouldn’t really quantify it by discipline. I’d say that you’ll see a lot of swings back and forth. At the end of the day, it’s going to be about depth. It’s going to be about who wants to get up and race at this time of the year, which is a heavy training point of the year.
“On the women’s side, they’ve had two incredibly great recruiting classes that have been ranked up in the Top 10, and we’re very young. Our women have the advantage in diving and some of the strokes, but again, it’s an ACC competition, and you go through that competitive cauldron in the ACC. You can’t take any team lightly, so we’re just going to have to get up and compete.
Legendary Notre Dame Swim Coach Tim Welsh spent 30 years coaching and educating Notre Dame student-athletes prior to his retirement, and has since been honored with the highest honor from the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA), the National Collegiate and Scholastic Swimming Trophy, in 2014. Last season, Notre Dame dedicated the team room to Welsh, in further recognition of his legacy.
Welsh is currently engaged in a fight against pancreatic cancer. In support of the legendary coach, Notre Dame student-athletes will be wearing purple this weekend, and encourage fans and friends to do the same, sharing photos and videos in their purple and in support of Coach Welsh with the hashtag #SwimForTim.
“One of the things that I’ve really enjoyed about being at Notre Dame is that we have opportunities like this,” Litzinger reflected. “We have an opportunity to continue to honor Tim through his legacy for 30 years. [Later this season,] we have an opportunity to remember our teammates who died in the bus accident. We have an opportunity to continue Coach Dennis Stark’s legacy. That’s rare at a lot of programs.
“Usually, new coaches come in and kind of pull the desk drawer out, dump all the stuff in the garbage can and start again, but here, it’s unique that we’re able to continue to build on legacies. I think our kids really feel that.”
Last Time Out
Notre Dame earned wins in the dual meet vs. Cincinnati December 4 at Rolfs Aquatics Center. The Irish placed first in 23 of 28 races, sweeping all four relay events. The individual wins were led by sophomore Jack Hoagland’s pool record in the 1000 Free (8:51.68). In total, the Irish posted 11 NCAA B-Cut qualifying times on the day.
“We had a great night of racing and diving against Cincinnati,” Litzinger noted. “I was impressed with both of our squads as we put up some very competitive performances.”
The No. 12 women won over Cincinnati, 204-87, while the No. 15 men topped the Bearcats, 201-93.
On the diving end, the Irish divers competed in an intrasquad competition, as Cincinnati’s divers competed in a different meet that weekend.
“I genuinely saw, in warm-ups and in competition, some of our student-athletes doing good things off the board that I haven’t seen them do before,” head dive coach Mark Bradshaw attested. “That was nice to see after a tough couple of weeks with finals and working hard that week.”