Feb. 26, 2016
By Lizzie Mikes
GREENSBORO, N.C. ÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢’Â¬” The University of Notre Dame men’s swim team had a myriad of top times swum Friday night at the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championship meet. The Irish advanced 12 swimmers individually into evening finals heats, but it was sophomore Justin Plaschka that earned the most solo points towards the team standings with his second place, 46.37 finish in the 100 fly. The time now stands as the school record in the event, breaking alumnus Frank Dyer’s record from 2014.
“I was really happy with the morning swim, that we were able to get two guys in the A final and for both of us to do really well,” Plaschka commented. “The fact that I was able to drop time and get Frank’s record was good. I’m looking forward to using that motivation to swim well tomorrow too.”
“We had another outstanding evening of racing led by Justin’s performance in the 100 fly,” head coach Mike Litzinger said. “Our guys are really in the thick of things and have been responding well to the high level of competition. I have been impressed with their efforts. We need to hold ourselves to a high standard again tomorrow morning and see what we can do with our finals swims.”
In addition to Plaschka, freshman Matthew Grauslys also swam in the 100 fly A final, finishing seventh overall, touching in at 47.11. Grauslys will also race tomorrow in the 200 fly. He holds Olympic Trials cuts in both events.
“Tonight, I tried my hardest and it was good experience for me as a freshman,” Grauslys said. “I didn’t quite go the time I wanted to go, but I’m looking forward to the years to come and it’s promising. I’m going to take away the experience of racing against some of the fastest athletes out here, I think it preps me and Justin pretty well for Olympic Trials.”
In the first final of the night, junior Kevin Bradley was joined by classmate Thomas Anderson, senior Shane McKenzie, and sophomore Richard Mannix in the 400 IM C final heat. Bradley, who swam a 3:51.76 in the prelims, dropped over four seconds to finish first in the heat and 17th overall, touching in at 3:47.68. McKenzie was the next highest finisher for the Irish, taking third in the C final (19th overall) with his 3:53.05 time, while Anderson clocked in at 3:56.11 and Mannix, 3:57.28. All four earned points towards the team standings.
In the 100 breast, Andrew Jensen was the lone finalist for the Irish. He swam in the C final, and finished 22nd overall (55.55). In the last individual race of the night, Bogac Ayhan and Robert Whitacre swam in the B final of the 100 backstroke. Ayhan finished fourth in the heat (12th overall) with a time of 47.63, and Whitacre touched the wall seventh in the heat (15th overall) in 47.78 seconds.
In the last race of the night, the 400 medley relay, the lineup of Ayhan (back), Jackson (breaststroke), Grauslys (fly) and Plaschka (free) finished seventh overall, touching the wall in 3:11.42. The Irish finished the night with 441 points and are in ninth place.
In the morning preliminaries, 15 of the 17 Irish swimmers in Greensboro raced for a chance to advance in the evening. In addition to Bradley (3:51.76 prelims), Anderson (3:52.43 prelims), McKenzie (3:53.01 prelims) and Mannix (3:53.43 prelims), freshman Steven Shek finished 30th overall, clocking in at 3:56.65. Ayhan also swam in the 100 fly with Grauslys (47.01 prelims) and Plaschka (47.04 prelims), but touched in at 48.46, just shy of the 24-man cut.
In the 200 free, Jackson (1:35.45 prelims), Fujan (1:35.99 prelims) and Hudspith (1:37.44 prelims) raced alongside Connor Brown (1:38.29 prelims) and Joseph Petrone (1:38.89 prelims). Brown finished 26th overall, while Petrone came in 34th in the event.
In total, 12 NCAA B-cuts were swam in the morning session, and seven more were earned in the evening. The Irish return for the last day of competition Saturday, with the 200 back, 100 free, 200 breast, 200 fly, 1650 free and 400 free relay being contested.
— ND —
Lizzie Mikes serves as Media Services Coordinator at the University of Notre Dame. A 2013 graduate of Johnson & Wales University, she oversees credential management and is the athletic communications director for Fighting Irish men’s and women’s swimming and diving and track and field. She has assisted with numerous NCAA postseason events hosted by Notre Dame, and is heavily involved in the day-to-day tasks of the athletic communications office.