Nine Irish To Compete At Initial ACC/Big Ten Challenge

NOTRE DAME, Ind. — A number of the Notre Dame swimming and diving team have been selected to participate in the first-ever installment of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The two-day event will take place on the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. The Boilermakers previously traveled north to Notre Dame in October where the Irish swept with 190-110 (women) and 168-132 (men) victories.

The Challenge, which features 25 schools (12 ACC, 13 B1G), will be aired on Big Ten Network (BTN) Plus and BTN2Go.com. Saturday’s portion of the meet begins at 5 p.m. and the event will resume SUnday at 10 a.m. Sunday’s events will air live on BTN until noon.

“I am very excited about Notre Dame’s opportunity to participate in the 1st ACC v. Big Ten All Star Challenge Meet,” head coach Mike Litzinger said. “Our team will be well represented on both ends of the pool, and by our coaching staff. This meet is a fantastic way to showcase swimming and diving on the elite college level, and I cannot think of two better conferences to be represented other than the ACC and Big Ten.”

Nine members of the Irish team will have the chance to compete in the first edition of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, including Abbie Dolan (freestyle), Nikki Smith (butterfly), Lindsay Stone (distance freestyle), Carly Quast (freestyle/backstroke) and Kelly Straub (3-meter and platform diving). The men’s team will send Zach Yeadon (distance freestyle), Marci Barta (Individual Medley), Aaron Schultz (freestyle) and Jack Montesi (backstroke) to compete.

Heading into the weekend, the Irish post some of the best times in the NCAA in a variety of events. Stone and Dolan both hold top-25 times in three events while Quast has been a part of three relays with top-times. Four Notre Dame relays on the women’s side place in the top-25 of their events, with Dolan a member of all four teams.

After breaking two pool records at home last weekend, Yeadon boasts a team-high four events with times in the top-25 while Barta, who also set a Rolfs Aquatics Center record in his last meet, holds two, including an NCAA-best in the 400 IM (3:49.75). Montesi and Schultz are also top-25 time holders, both holding the 25th spot in the 100 back and 100 fly, respectively. In the relay races, Montesi and Schultz both contributed to two teams taking top-25 times while Yeadon was the anchor of the 14th-best 400 free relay.

Of the 25 teams competing, the Irish have already faced off against six, defeating five, including Georgia Tech, Pitt, Purdue, Miami (women) and Virginia Tech (women). The women also tied Indiana in their first meet of the season.

The inaugural event is highlighted by seven NCAA Champions and seven Olympians. Indiana’s Lilly King, an NCAA Champion in the 100 and 200 breast as well as a two-time gold medalist as a member of Team USA at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, headlines the meet. James Connor (Australia; 2012), Jinq En Phee (Malaysia; 2016), Tamila Holub (Portugal; 2016), Andreas Vazaios (Greece; 2012), Siobhan Haughey (Hong Kong; 2016) and Felix Aubock (Austria; 2016), who are all slated to compete this weekend, have also represented their countries at the Olympic Games.

“It will an intensely competitive contest, and I expect some of the fastest times in the NCAA will be swum this weekend,” Litzinger added. “Zach Yeadon and Marci Barta are among the NCAA leaders in their events, and Abbie Dolan will have an opportunity to show why she was ACC Swimmer of the Week. I am looking forward to coaching the ACC Men, and Caiming Xie will be on the diving staff. Both of us are thrilled to be involved.”

The first event of the weekend is the 400 medley relay followed by the 400 IM. The 100 free, 200 back, 200 breast, 100 fly, 500 free and 800 free relay will also compete on day one of the meet. Two diving competitions will run simultaneously with the swim events, with the men on the 3-meter boards and the women diving off the platform.

Day two will get underway with the 200 medley relay and 1,000 free. The day will also include the 200 free, 100 back, 100 breast, 200 fly, 50 free and the 200 IM before concluding with the 400 free relay. The diving portion will feature men on the platform while the women are on the 3-meter boards.

The Irish will next head to Columbus, Ohio for the annual Ohio State Fall Invitational, November 15-17 before a brief hiatus to end the semester.