Oct. 11, 2012
By Maura Jones
Heading into the final night of the 2012 BIG EAST Swimming and Diving Championships, Notre Dame led the field by 51.5 points. Frank Dyer, then a sophomore, anxiously anticipated an Irish win as the team rallied to fend off Louisville and capture the conference crown.
“We went into that meet, and we really had to be positive at every moment,” Dyer says. “I get chills about it now because that whole last hour and a half of the meet was just such an awesome experience to know that everything we had done all year was about to pay off. That’s probably the best moment that I have had at Notre Dame.”
Another great moment in Dyer’s career came last March when he became first-ever Irish men’s swimmer to be honored as an All-American. Dyer earned All-America status when he placed fourth in the 200-yard freestyle at the NCAA Championships.
“I’ve always said that there has to be someone who has to be first, but in the end I think it is more important how many people come after you,” Dyer says. “I think last year was the turning point. I think we will always have someone at NCAAs from now on, and our team is only getting better and faster.”
His fourth-place finish at last year’s NCAA Championships is one of just a handful of accolades that has made him the most decorated swimmer in the history of the Notre Dame men’s program. Currently the holder of seven school records, including individual marks in the 50, 100, 200 and 500-freestyle events, Dyer was the first-ever Irish men’s swimmer to compete at the NCAA Championships when he qualified in 2011. This past year, he not only competed and placed at NCAAs, but he also swam at the Olympic Trials. Although very accomplished, Dyer rarely dwells on his own achievements, preferring to look ahead to the future.
“I really don’t try to think about how much success that I have had, but more about all of the work that I have done in the water to get me to where I’ve been,” the Loudonville, N.Y., native says. “By no means do I think that I am the hardest worker on the team, but I do believe that my work ethic is strong, and I think that other people see that.”
This season, Dyer not only is concentrating on his personal goals, but also is focused on helping his teammates achieve similar success at the national level.
“He’s a great teammate. There’s not an ego in Frank,” head coach Tim Welch says of his All-American. “He prefers being a part of the group, and the team loves that fact. He is a good leader by example.”
As team captain this year, Dyer says that he likes to encourage others with his work ethic and positive attitude more than having a vocal presence. It is not by chance that he has achieved so much in only two years at Notre Dame. His coaches noted that he has a focused work ethic and faith in the coaching staff have allowed him to reach his goals so quickly.
“In all sports there are people who want to be great, but some people think it and won’t actually do it. Frank works hard, and he wants to be good. He sets his goals and tries to achieve them,” assistant coach Matt Tallman says.
Both Dyer and the Notre Dame team are on the rise as those in the swimming community are noting the program’s steady rise in the national ranks. Would-be goals are now considered expectations, and Dyer’s success is certainly a contributing factor to the program’s overall progress.
“We have set the bar even higher this year,” Dyer says. “There are people who think that we are on the rise but that it is going to take more time. I just want to get out there and prove them wrong and do the best that we can this year.”
Following last year’s breakout season, Dyer hopes to continue to improve his times and achieve even greater success in his final two seasons. With a bright future ahead of him and the support of his family, coaches and teammates, he is excited about the upcoming campaign and his future in the sport. Dyer is perhaps eyeing the possibility of continue to compete in the sport after his collegiate eligibility has expired.
“He’s a very intense competitor,” Welsh says. “When the race is on, the race is on. He’s able to give himself completely to a race. You have to be able to trust yourself to be able to do that.”
With his competitive “race is on” mentality, positive attitude, high expectations and even higher goals, there is no doubt that Dyer will lead the team to even greater success over the next two years of his career.