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Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024
The Observer

Irish gear up for ACC championships

Notre Dame will travel to Atlanta this week as it competes in the ACC championships, starting Wednesday and continuing through Saturday.

The Irish (7-9) enter the conference championships on a wave of momentum, coming off three straight comfortable wins at Rolfs Aquatic Center, over Iowa and Incarnate Word at the Shamrock Invitational and against Cleveland State one week later.

Irish coach Tim Welsh said he believes his team’s success at the Shamrock Invitational marked a turning point in the season, and he thinks this newfound form can continue in Atlanta.

“I think the momentum since the Shamrock Invitational meet has been terrific,” Welsh said. “I thought that the Shamrock Invitational was a breakthrough meet for us, and so I’m really excited by what happened, and we’ve been building on that since.

“That was our breakthrough meet and we’ll be carrying that forward into this weekend.”

The Irish will be looking for a big performance from senior All-American Emma Reaney, who won the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke and 200-yard individual medley at last year’s championships. In addition to Reaney, who holds the American record in the 200 breaststroke, sophomore Katie Miller will be looking to follow up a third-place finish in last year's 400-yard individual medley with a strong performance this weekend.

Welsh, though, said the primary goal for the Irish this week is just about setting new fast marks for the year.

“What we’re interested in primarily is best times,” Welsh said. “We’ll be trying to be faster than we’ve been all year, and if we’re in real good shape, faster than we’ve ever been in our lives. For us, it’s going to be all about best times this week.

“The work is already done; these people have been training since school began in the fall, and so what we’re trying to do now is just to make sure that everything is organized, focused, concentrated and ready to go.”

Although this is only Notre Dame’s second conference meet since moving to the ACC, Welsh said he believes last year’s performances from the Irish, and in particular Reaney, prove that they can compete with their opponents.

“We haven’t paid a lot of attention to the field,” Welsh said. “Emma Reaney was the swimmer of the year at these championships last year, so she’ll be in position to defend her titles.

“The work’s been done; we’ve had some rest; we’ve got a big meet in a great facility, so we just have to maintain our focus and our concentration and let loose.”

Welsh said the team will just enjoy its chance to perform at the conference championships and hope to see the season's work pay off.

“We’re just looking forward to a great meet,” Welsh said. “These people trained hard all year, and it’s just great to be here with both the swimmers and divers in Atlanta.”

The ACC championships begin at the Georgia Tech Campus Recreation Center in Atlanta on Wednesday at 10 a.m. with the diving preliminaries and continue until Saturday evening, with the final session starting at 6 p.m.