Oct. 13, 2017
By Leigh Torbin
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Coming off of the first dual-meet top 10 wins in school history last Saturday, the No. 17/25 Notre Dame men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams aim to keep their momentum going this weekend as the Irish play host to Michigan State and No. 15/5 Texas A&M at the Rolfs Aquatic Center. Action between representatives of three of the country’s five top conferences (ACC, Big Ten and SEC) begins at 5 p.m. on Friday and continues at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
The event is not a tri-meet, however, for scoring purposes. Notre Dame and Texas A&M will compete head-to-head over the duration of the two days while separate team scores by the Irish and Aggies against the Spartans will only include competition on Friday evening as Michigan State will not compete on Saturday.
One advantage of the two-day format against Texas A&M is for an extended program that will include 38 events, 19 each for the men’s and women’s teams.
“It’s an unusual two-day format which is great because we get to swim all the events in the college lineup,” Notre Dame head coach Mike Litzinger said. “It’s going to be a great experience for our athletes to race some of the best swimmers in the country. It will be fun to have three different teams from three different conferences in the pool at the same time.”
Notre Dame is six days removed from its impressive wins over the No. 7 Louisville men and No. 9 Louisville women which featured performances that earned Zach Yeadon and Abbie Dolan national swimmer of the week accolades for their respective genders. Litzinger’s challenge now is to turn the page for another stern test that awaits from the Spartans and Aggies.
“As soon as the meet concluded against Louisville, the main thing I talked about was moving to the next week,” Litzinger said. “(I said to) enjoy the victory, but it’s in the past now. We’re looking ahead. We haven’t arrived by any means. We’re a work in progress but that was one step in our progression. Meets like this put us through the fire towards the end goal of ACCs and NCAAs.”
About the Aggies
Texas A&M brings the fifth-ranked women’s team and 15th-ranked men’s team to Notre Dame this weekend. The Aggie women are the two-time defending SEC champions and placed third at NCAAs last year. The Aggie men return seven of their 10 NCAA qualifiers from a year ago when the team placed 16th.
This weekend will marks Texas A&M’s dual-meet opener for the 2017-18 season.
“Texas A&M is more of the same as Louisville — a fantastic program” Liztinger said. “Their men are like us. They’re on the upswing. It will be fun to try and matchup with them.”
About the Spartans
A regular foe for the Irish throughout their history, Michigan State opened its 2017-18 season last week at Iowa. The Spartan men lost to the Hawkeyes while the Michigan State women beat Northern Iowa but lost to their Big Ten rival.
Matt Gianiodis is in his 21st year as head coach of the Spartans but he learned his craft from Litzinger having both swam and served as an assistant coach under him at St. Bonaventure in the 1990s.
“Michigan State is a traditional opponent for us this time of the year,” Litzinger said. “They traditionally have excellent diving and breaststroke swimming so that will be good competition in particular.”
How to Get Here
Due to renovations to the Joyce Center’s fieldhouse which restrict access to Gate 5, swimming and diving fans are encouraged to take a slightly different route to access the Rolfs Aquatic Center. Fans should park in the Bulla Lot and then access the Joyce Center through Gate 2 which is on the west side of the building near the men’s basketball office. Fans can then proceed through Heritage Hall to the Rolfs spectator balcony.
Leigh Torbin, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2013. A native of Framingham, Massachusetts, Torbin graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in sports management. He has previously worked full-time on the athletic communications staffs at Vanderbilt, Florida, Connecticut and UCF.