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Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024
The Observer

Irish women finish 41st, men set for their turn at NCAAs

Notre Dame’s women’s team concluded its season this past weekend at the NCAA championships in Columbus, Ohio.

The championships began Wednesday at Ohio State’s McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion. The 800-yard freestyle relay fell short of scoring points with a 23rd place finish, as sophomores Abbie Dolan and Lauren Heller, junior Kyra Sarazen and freshman Skylar Fore recorded a time of 7:05.71.

Dolan and Heller returned Thursday to join freshman Carly Quast and junior Sofia Revilak for the 200-yard freestyle relay. Their school-record-setting time of 1:28.81 earned them 18th place in the preliminary round, narrowly missing a position in the finals. The day continued with freshman Lindsay Stone competing in the prelims of the 500-yard freestyle, an event she set the program record for earlier this season. Her 52nd-place finish was approximately three seconds slower than her personal-best time of 4:42.85. After a short break from the 200-yard freestyle relay, Dolan and Quast returned to the water to race in the prelims of the 50-yard freestyle. In an extremely tight race, Dolan took 39th with a time of 22.56 seconds, and she was followed closely by Quast, who finished in 44th place with a time of 22.61.

Divers sophomore Erin Isola and freshman Kelly Straub took the board Thursday to compete in the 1-meter dive. Isola took 43rd place in the event, while Straub finished just behind her in 44th.

Irish head coach Mike Litzinger said the divers gained valuable expereince at the national competition.

“Having a freshman and sophomore competing on the boards bodes well for the future,” he said. “Along with having one of the top diving recruits in the country joining next season, I’m excited about the next step.”

Despite having been competitive through two days of competition, the Irish closed the second day without having scored a point in the championships.

On Friday, the team started to build momentum with four top-40 finishes. Dolan began the day in an event she currently holds the Notre Dame record — the 200-yard freestyle. She took home 35th place with a time of 1:46.12. Later in the day, Quast and junior Alice Treuth competed in the 100-yard backstroke, finishing 30th and 39th, respectively. Isola rounded out the day for the Irish with a 34th-place finish in the 3-meter diving competition with a score of 286.10.

The highlight for the team of the week’s competition came Saturday in the 400-freestyle relay. Quast, Revilak, Dolan and Heller clocked in a time of 3:14.98 to earn 15th place in the event, subsequently earning four team points for the Irish in the event. Additionally, all four competitors earned honorable mention All-American status for their top-16 finish.

The individual events also came to a close with a 24th-place finish by Treuth in the 200-yard backstroke and a 33rd-place finish by Stone in the 1650-yard freestyle race. The Irish finished the weekend in 41st place, beating out the likes of conference rivals Duke, Florida State and Miami.

Litzinger said he’s optimistic about the returning talent and is confident in the upcoming leadership for next season on the women’s side.

“Our relays looked very strong and certainly were the highlight of the weekend,” Litzinger said of the team’s performance. “We return every athlete who qualified this year, and our recruiting has been very strong. ... We are poised for big things in the future.”

The men’s team will travel to Minneapolis for their turn at the NCAA championships beginning Wednesday.

Four individual qualifiers will represent the Irish on the national stage, three of whom are swimmers. Freshman Zach Yeadon will compete in the 500-yard and 1650-yard freestyle events, in which he currently owns the seventh and third best times in the country, respectively. He’ll be joined by senior Justin Plaschka, who will be swimming the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly, and senior Rob Whitacre, who will be competing in the 200-yard individual medley race and the 200-yard backstroke, the latter of which he currently holds the 13th-fastest time in the country.

Litzinger said senior Joe Coumos, the sole male diving qualifier, will be a key player on the board.

The four-day championship will be particularly busy for Plaschka, who in addition to his two individual events will lead off four relays — the 200- and 400-yard freestyle and the 200- and 400-yard medley teams. Meanwhile, Whitacre will compete in the two medley relays, while junior Daniel Speers will be joining Plaschka on all four relays. Junior Tabahn Afrik rounds out the final qualifier, participating in the 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays.

“We need to take advantage of our high seeding and make our relays count,” Litzinger said of his team’s goals for the upcoming championships.

Litzinger said he and his coaching staff have spent the past couple weeks focusing on the various elements that come into play in this championship week.

“It’s a great and exciting time of year,” he said. “Our men are in the phase of their training where they focused a lot on pacing and detail work. They’ve continued on their training schedule while cheering on their female teammates.”

The men will compete in the NCAA championships starting Thursday at Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center.