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Friday, March 1, 2024
The Observer

Irish prepare to host Tim Welsh Classic

Notre Dame Swim and Dive returns to competition this weekend for the first time in two months following a slew of COVID-related meet cancellations, most recently, the Irish’s meet against Princeton and Navy. Notre Dame will host the Tim Welsh Classic at Rolfs Aquatic center kicking off this Friday, January 21 at 10 a.m. in honor of the late Tim Welsh, former 29-year Notre Dame Swim and Dive head swim coach who passed away in June 2021. 

Teams attending include Ohio State University, University of Akron Women’s team and Missouri State University Women’s team. Assistant coach Joe Brinkman has a positive outlook on the weekend, feeling eager for his swimmers to get back in on the action. 

“We’ve had to put the health of the team first, which is the priority, but unfortunately it left us without a competition up until this point,” Brinkman said. “We’re really excited to get back in the water and get at it.” 

The most recent competition for the Irish was back in mid-November at the Ohio State Fall Invitational where both the Men’s and Women’s teams placed fourth out of ten teams. As a whole, the team had a strong showing.

“We had a number of athletes put up a lifetime best and a season-best,” Brinkman said. “We had a number of athletes put themselves — at the midseason break — in contention for qualification for NCAAs. It was a really productive meet for our team and it put us in a really good spot. It gave us an understanding of what this team is capable of at the end of the year.”

Standout swimmers for the weekend included senior captain Josh Bottelberghe and senior Luciana Thomas. Bottelberghe set two school records in the 100 and 200 breaststrokes, finishing second in the 100 breaststroke final and claiming the victory in the 200. Thomas attained three NCAA B cut times in the 200 fly, 500 free and 400 IM. For the divers, graduate student Kelly Straub and freshman Callie Brady put up some points for the women in the 1-meter, 3-meter and platform events, and senior David Petrison was the highest finisher for the men. 

The Tim Welsh Classic will act as what Brinkman called a “dry run” for the championship meets such as ACCs coming up in mid-February, and for some — NCAAs in March. This meet will also include a senior recognition portion, allowing Notre Dame Swim and Dive to honor their seniors for their time on the team. 

Known in the past as the Shamrock Invitational, the meet’s name was changed to the Tim Welsh Classic following Coach Welsh’s death last summer. Brinkman hopes that this name change will honor Welsh’s Notre Dame legacy.

“Tim was such an integral part of this team and the history of this team at the university,” Brinkman said. “He was just a very special coach and person that meant a lot to so many. He touched a lot of lives here in this program, so it really means a lot that we are able to name this meet after him and run it and compete for Notre Dame in his legacy.” 

The two-day competition begins at Rolfs on Friday, January 21 at 10 a.m., followed by diving at 5 p.m. and another session at 11:15 a.m. on Saturday.