Even at 91 years old, former head coach Dennis Stark has only missed one Notre Dame Relays (Dennis Stark Relays) in 50 years.

Irish Set To Host The 50th Annual Dennis Stark Relays

Oct. 9, 2014

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – On the day the meet’s namesake turns 91 years old, the University of Notre Dame men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs welcome in three teams to Rolfs Aquatic Center at 5 p.m. Friday for the 50th annual Dennis Stark Relays.

The relays, which were started by former head coach Dennis Stark in 1964 as a men’s competition known as the Notre Dame Relays, branched out to include a women’s meet in 1983.

Stark, who is expected to appear at the meet, has only missed one of the 49 previous relays (daughter’s wedding).

Illinois State (women), Ohio State (women) and Olivet Nazarene (men & women) will race with the Irish in the unusual meet that features 10 swimming and two diving relays.

For the first time since 2004, the Irish aren’t opening their campaign with the relays. Instead, Notre Dame began the 2014-15 season with a dual meet against Michigan State last Friday evening at Rolfs.

While still knocking off some rust to begin the year, the Irish breezed to a 182-118 victory where they won 12 of the 16 events. Two event winners included sophomore Catherine Mulquin (100 back, 100 free), senior Emma Reaney (100 breast, 200 breast) and junior Lindsey Streepey (1M, 3M dives). Mulquin and Reaney were also part of the victorious 200 medley relay squad.

Fans can follow the Dennis Stark Relays through the live stats link on UND.com or download the Meet Mobile app on their smartphones for up-to-the-minute results.

During the meet, the program’s Twitter account (@NDwSwimming) will offer updates of each event.

Dennis Stark Relays Information

The meet is made up of only relays with some traditional events like the 200-yard free relay being complimented with nontraditional races like the 300-yard fly relay and the 300-yard back relay. On the diving side, two divers will pair up for the 1-meter relay and the 3-meter synchronized relay.

Beginning in 1964 and taking place in each of the subsequent 49 seasons since, Notre Dame’s swimmers and divers have christened each competitive season with the Notre Dame Relays, an event founded by former Irish head coach Dennis Stark. The creator of the relay meet in 1964, Stark has coached, officiated or watched from the pool deck all but one Notre Dame Relay meet since. He was the first coach of both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams at Notre Dame and coached for 27 years before moving into an administrative position as director of the Rolfs Aquatic Center in 1985.

A 1947 graduate of Notre Dame, Stark was the head coach of the Irish men’s program from 1958-85 and ended his career with a record of 174-135-1, including an 11-1 mark in 1974-75. Stark, whose student-athletes included Notre Dame’s first-ever NCAA qualifiers and six All-Americans, also headed the women’s program from 1981-85, compiling a 31-14 dual-meet record during his tenure. He was the 1984 women’s coach of the year in the North Star Conference.

Stark was heavily involved in the Special Olympics program in the Northern Indiana area for many years. He was the aquatics venue manager for the 1987 International Summer Olympics held in South Bend and was honored by Special Olympics advocate Eunice Kennedy Shriver for his outstanding work. Stark’s son, Kenny, was a Special Olympian and passed away Jan. 2, 2011.

Stark has also been honored by the Notre Dame National Monogram Club, received the Moose Krause Award in 2010, earned the Harvey G. Foster Award from the Notre Dame Alumni Association and was recently presented the Russ Oliver Award that honored his high ideals, dedication and service to youth athletics by the St. Joseph Valley Officials Association. The St. Joseph Valley Officials Association also awarded Stark with its Zebra Award in 2007.

A native of Detroit, Mich., Stark and his wife, Angelina, who passed away Oct. 26, 2003, had five children together, three of whom are Notre Dame graduates.

In his honor, the name of the Notre Dame Relays was officially changed to “The Dennis Stark Relays” on Nov. 22, 2003.

The Notre Dame Family extends its deepest thanks and gratitude to Coach Stark for his years of service and dedication to the University and community.

Dennis Stark Relay Schedule of Events
200-yard Free Relay
400-yard Medley Relay
800-yard Free Relay
400-yard Individual Medley Relay
300-yard Fly Relay
300-yard Back Relay
300-yard Breast Relay
1,000-yard Free Relay
200-yard Medley Relay
400-yard Free Relay
1-meter Diving Relay
3-meter Synchronized Diving Relay

–Russell Dorn, Assistant Media Relations Director