March 24, 2016
ATLANTA, Ga. – As the only individual invitee from the University of Notre Dame men’s swimming team to race at the 2016 NCAA Championship, sophomore Justin Plaschka (Smithtown, N.Y. / Hauppage) was not only excited, but calm heading into championship week.
It had been his personal goal all season to qualify, and heading into the meet, he said, “My goals are just to definitely go in with a level head and perform as best as I can in relays and individuals races, and if possible, break Frank’s records.”
Justin Placshka set a school record Thursday – by merely .01 of a second.
Thursday morning, Plaschka did precisely that, breaking class of 2014 alumnus Frank Dyer’s school record time of 19.57 in the 50 free. After coming close at last month’s ACC Championship when he was only .04 seconds away from the record, Plaschka was even more determined to make a mark at NCAAs once the field had been announced with him in it.
“I am really happy with my swim,” the sophomore sprinter said. “I was a little disappointed with my leadoff in the relay, so I knew I wanted to avenge that. I was really going for Frank’s record and am so happy that I was able to get it. I was really dialed in and focused before my race, and I felt ready to go. I knew as soon as I dove off the blocks that the swim felt great, and looking up at the board and the finish I was happy that I snuck in under the record by the slimmest of margins.”
“Justin is primed and ready to swim fast,” Irish head coach Mike Litzinger said. “His 50 was a great lead-up to the 100 fly tomorrow. He’s been chasing that record all year, and it’s great he was able to eclipse it.”
Plaschka finished tied for 20th in the 50 free with Tate Jackson of Texas, younger brother of current Irish junior Trent Jackson, who swam with Plaschka in the 200 free relay earlier in the day. The relay finished 18th in the prelims (1:18.62), with Plaschka swimming the leadoff leg in 19.74, followed by Daniel Speers (19.34), Tabahn Afrik (19.69) and Jackson (19.85).
Jackson, Afrik and Speers also swam Thursday evening, racing with last-minute addition Matthew Grauslys in the 800 free relay. The team touched in at 21st, clocking in at 6:28.37. Jackson swam a leadoff split of 1:35.55, while Afrik went 1:36.26, Speers, 1:37.84, and Grauslys, 1:38.72.
“Our 200 free relay was very solid, just a bit off our ACC time,” Litzinger commented. “Reed Fujan was missing on that due to illness, and Trent filled in admirably. In the 800 free relay, I’ll take 21st by our team, where three of our four guys swam lifetime bests and Trent was just a few tenths off of his personal best. Without Reed, and calling up Matt [Grauslys] for a last-second swim, we made the best possible situation out of it.”
Plaschka returns to the pool Friday, swimming in the 100 fly. He broke Dyer’s long-standing record of 46.92 with his second-place, 46.37 time at the ACC meet in February, earning all-conference honors in the process. He finishes his inaugural NCAA performance Saturday, swimming in both the 100 free and the 400 free relay. Results will be posted to und.com.
Notre Dame NCAA Championship Results
800 Free Relay: 21st, 6:28.37 (Jackson 1:35.55, Afrik 1:36.26, Speers 1:37.84, Grauslys 1:38.72)
200 Free Relay: 18th, 1:18.62 (Plaschka 19.74, Speers 19.34, Afrik 19.69, Jackson 19.85)
50 Free: Justin Plaschka, 19.56!
! – new school record
— 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.