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Saturday, June 15, 2024
The Observer

Irish break records at Shamrock Invitational

For head coach Mike Litzinger’s team, competition has been scarce due to the coronavirus pandemic. When they have faced other schools however, the Notre Dame swimming and diving team has more than risen to the occasion. This weekend's Shamrock Invitational was no exception, with the women’s team beating Akron 260-109 and the men’s team defeating Missouri State 268-86.

This weekend saw multiple pool records broken. Sophomore Jack Hoagland posted a 4:15.39 in the 500 free and a 3:43.78 in the 400 IM. The 200 Medley Relay consisting of senior Brendan Santana, junior Josh Bottelberghe, sophomore Cason Wilburn and sophomore Topher Stensby swam a 1:26.23. Lastly, sophomore Charles Korndorffer swam a 47.22 in the 100 fly. On the women’s side, junior Bayley Stewart swam a 1:53.46 to break the 200 Back pool record and sophomore Coleen Gillilan broke her own pool record in the 200 Fly with a time of 1:55.37.

One of the most important events of the weekend was the one-meter dive on the women’s team. Senior Kelly Straub broke a long-standing team record, posting a score of 340.35. This record had stood since 2012.

It was just an outstanding performance. That was probably the most standout event of the entire weekend,” head diving coach Mark Bradshaw said.

With impressive performances all around this weekend, Litzinger expressed confidence in the future of his team, both for the ACC Championships and beyond. "Some of our relays on the men's side, really took some steps forward. Our men's diving program is coming along really well,” he said. 

For the women’s team, he congratulated swimmers Stewart and Gillilan. “Those are really outstanding performances that will put them in the NCAA championships this year,” Litzinger said. “The depth is starting to show, it's starting to come forward. That's huge as we prepare for a championship time.” 

Beyond ACC Championships, Litzinger had glowing praise for the future of his program:

“When we look at [sopomore] Jack Fitzpatrick, or a [freshman] Kaden Smesko who performed very well in backstroke this weekend, or a [freshman] Tyler Christianson and Josh Bottelberghe in breaststroke. Those guys are our future, and they're really coming online. And it's the same thing with the women. Like I mentioned, Colleen Gillilan, Bailey Stewart, [junior] Luciana Thomas, [junior] Madeline LaPorte, they all inherited tough spots with people who are school record-holders ahead of them, and they're starting to fill those shoes.” 

This weekend, being the last home meet for the seniors, carried special significance for the team and for the coaches. In his first year on the Notre Dame coaching staff, Bradshaw gave high praise to his seniors.

“We're very fortunate that we have a couple of young ladies on the team that have provided great leadership, Kelly Straub and [senior] Kate McCahan are our two senior divers. They've helped kind of guide me to a certain point, you know, being the newbie here,” Bradshaw said.

Litzinger highlighted his team's resiliency.

“I think having consistent performance over three sessions which are back to back to back, is huge. And so their resiliency, stick-to-itiveness, this was really applicable,” he said.

With one last meet on the forefront, everyone traveling to ACC Championships will look to prepare physically and mentally for the upcoming weeks. Those seniors who will be swimming and diving their last events, will look to end their career in the pool on a resounding high note.  

Notre Dame Swimming and Diving has their last duel meet Jan. 29 and 30 away against the Mountaineers of West Virginia.

This weekend marked the 29th anniversary of the fatal bus crash that tragically killed two Notre Dame swimmers. Former Head Coach Tim Welsh gathered virtually with alumni for a mass in honor of those lost.