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Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024
The Observer

Yeadon continues to build momentum through standout sophomore season

The Notre Dame swimming and diving program has hit a lull in its schedule, but one athlete is not letting this break distract him from his work.

“He’s a very focused guy, and he trains at a very high level,” Irish head coach Mike Litzinger said about sophomore free Zach Yeadon. “He’s a world-class athlete, there’s no question about that, so when you have student athletes like that on your team, you’re constantly trying to challenge them. We’re trying to challenge Zach, and he is responding well to the challenge.”

Yeadon, a sophomore from San Antonio, Texas, currently holds the third-best time nationally in the 1,000-yard freestyle event. His success extends to the 1,650-yard freestyle, an event in which he also holds the third-fastest time in the nation. Those results are the product of a strong year of training, Litzinger said.

“I think Zach came off a really great summer where he made the World University Games Team for the United States, and he’s carried that training from last year’s season and the summer into the fall,” Litzinger said.

Last season, Yeadon came to Notre Dame as a freshman and experienced his first taste of college athletics. He set program records in the 500-yard, 1,000-yard and 1,650-yard freestyle events as a freshman, and he earned the Notre Dame men’s swimming Most Valuable Swimmer award at the end of his campaign.

Yeadon has avoided all signs of a sophomore slump this season, and he has been especially effective in long-distance freestyle events. While Yeadon’s specialty is in the 1,000-yard and 1,650-yard distances, he has also posted wins in the 500-yard and 200-yard events this season.

“I think he’s a competitor first and foremost, and he’s a team guy,” Litzinger said. “Earlier this season we had him do a triple — he swam the 1,000 free, won the 200 free and won the 500 free. We can rely on our best athletes at the end of the day, and he responded to that very well.”

Yeadon’s determination to carry the team, while admirable, is also unsustainable, Litzinger said. The Irish head coach wants to continue to develop Yeadon to handle daunting expectations.

“He expects a lot out of himself. He can’t carry the day all the time, and we don’t want him to feel like he has to,” Litzinger said of Yeadon. “Disappointments come in this sport, and we want to help him handle those. So far he has done that well.”

Litzinger said Yeadon’s determination and work ethic have helped his teammates to perform at a higher level. Yeadon works with a training group that features freshman Marton Barta, sophomore Sadler McKeen and junior Aaron Schultz.

“That group, they really respond to challenges,” Litzinger said. “And there’s a certain pride level with those guys — they really want to compete.”

The Irish last competed in a meet Nov. 17, and they will not line up against another competitor until Jan. 7. Despite this gap at the midway point of the season, Litzinger expects his team to be fully prepared for the second half of the season. Notre Dame will compete in five more meets before the postseason championships.

“Everything points toward the championship season,” Litzinger said. “Those meets are just stepping stones along the way to ACCs and the NCAA championship.”

The Irish athletes will use each of those meets as an opportunity to prepare, and Yeadon will be leading the way.