Sept. 3, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Longtime University of Notre Dame men’s swimming and diving coach Tim Welsh, who stepped down from that role following the 2013-14 season after 29 seasons with the Irish, now will take on the assignment of coaching the Notre Dame women’s swimming and diving squads on an interim basis.
Welsh temporarily will fill in for Brian Barnes, who announced his resignation Tuesday due to personal and family reasons. Barnes had been the Notre Dame women’s swimming and diving coach the last six seasons.
For Welsh, it’s a return to a position he occupied the first 10 seasons he served at Notre Dame when he was head coach of both the Irish men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs.
“I feel confident that Tim will be able to step into this interim role at Notre Dame and make it as much of a seamless transition as it can be for our women’s swimmers,” says Notre Dame vice president and athletics director Jack Swarbrick. “Tim knows the program and, just as important, he knows and understands Notre Dame.”
“In one sense I had been looking forward to stepping away from the day-to-day challenges of coaching, and yet I truly look forward to this assignment,” says Welsh. “I’ve obviously worked closely with Brian the last half-dozen years, so I have a familiarity with the team. The program has made great strides in recent years, and I hope I can help lead that group to continued success.”
Welsh coached his Irish men’s and women’s teams to a combined 326-179-1 (.645) dual-meet record beginning with his arrival at Notre Dame in 1985. His teams won 22 league titles (15 in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference, six BIG EAST Conference championships, one North Star Conference championship) and finished as runners-up on seven occasions (two in the MCC and five in the BIG EAST).
Welsh’s squads won 45 BIG EAST Championship individual and relay events over their 18-year membership in that league. His men’s swimming student-athletes achieved 23 invitations to the NCAA Championships, including 20 bids in the last four seasons alone. He tutored swimmers who gained All-America honors on 12 occasions (nine by men, three by women).
Under his guidance, the Fighting Irish captured the program’s first BIG EAST title in 2005 and repeated the feat in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2013. Notre Dame sent competitors to the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships in six of the past nine seasons, with Frank Dyer earning the program’s first All-America honor in 2012 and a record nine Irish swimmers competing at the 2013 NCAA meet. Notre Dame sent eight student-athletes to the NCAA Championship meet during Welsh’s final season in 2014.
The most apparent reality of the Welsh era at Notre Dame was the almost every-day occurrence that breaking University records became. During his tenure, Welsh saw his student-athletes break the Notre Dame record in every event–on both the men’s and women’s sides–on multiple occasions. In all, more than 200 University records were set under Welsh’s tutelage. The Irish established 12 marks each during the 2004-05, 2008-09 and 2011-12 seasons. In the lists of the top 10 performers in each swimming event in Notre Dame men’s history, no names remain from the pre-Welsh era.
The Irish women’s coach from 1985-86 through 1994-95, Welsh and his teams posted a 93-50-1 (.649) dual meet record, winning MCC titles in each season from 1987-95. His teams also claimed the Eastern Intercollegiate Championship in 1990 and again in 1995, when the last women’s program Welsh coached finished with the best record in school history at 14-1. During his 10 years at the helm of the Notre Dame women’s program, Welsh sent 11 swimmers to the NCAA Championships, including three-time All-American Tanya Williams. In that span, every Irish women’s University record was broken.
Welsh in May received the National Collegiate and Scholastic Swimming Trophy, the College Swimming Coaches Association of America’s (CSCAA) highest honor. The award is presented to an individual or organization for having contributed in an outstanding way to swimming as a competitive sport and as a healthful recreational activity in schools and colleges.
Welsh received the Richard E. Steadman Award from the CSCAA in 1993. The award is given annually to a swimming or diving coach in the high school, club or university ranks who, in the opinion of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, Inc., and the CSCAA, has done the most to spread joy and happiness in swimming.
Notre Dame bestowed its Presidential Achievement Award on Welsh in 2009, recognizing a University employee who lives the University’s mission and is a role model exemplifying all of the school’s core values.
Welsh’s student-athletes have been traditionally strong in the classroom as well. Perennially on CSCAA Scholar All-America lists (which rank teams according to grade-point average), the Irish claimed the top spot in the 1999 season and have been in the top 10 eight times since 1990. The program was honored in 2009 with the BIG EAST Team Excellence Award, which recognizes the highest collective GPAs in each conference sport. That year’s team finished with a 3.272 grade index. In 2012, Bill Bass became the first CSCAA Scholar All-American in program history, a feat Dyer also accomplished in 2013.
Following his 29th season as head coach at Notre Dame, Welsh ranked behind only track and field’s Joe Piane (39 seasons) as the longest-serving athletic program leader at the University. He also was awarded an honorary monogram from Notre Dame’s National Monogram Club and has seen six of his swimmers garner the Byron V. Kanaley Award, the most prestigious honor an Irish student-athlete can achieve.
Welsh was honored for his special service to the American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA) and the sport of swimming by receiving the ASCA’s distinguished Ousley Service Award in 2004. One of Welsh’s key developments is the ASCA Fellows Program–which is designed to professionally and thoroughly prepare the next generation of coaching leaders. Welsh was named president of the ASCA in September 2009 with the term coming to a close in the fall of 2011.
Welsh received the CSCAA’s Distinguished Service Award for his 35 years of service in college coaching and was deemed the organization’s Division I men’s representative on its Board of Directors in 2009.
Prior to coaching at Notre Dame, Welsh spent eight years as the men’s and women’s head swimming and diving coach at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. He led the men’s squad to a 65-26 mark, including two NCAA Division III national championships.
Welsh graduated magna cum laude from Providence College in 1966 and went on to earn his master’s degree from the University of Virginia in 1967. Welsh became the men’s assistant swimming coach at Syracuse in 1974, after leaving Winthrop College (S.C.) where he had taught English.