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Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024
The Observer

Notre Dame swim and dive prepares for season with redefined outlook

Fall semester has come and (almost) gone, and that means it’s time for the Notre Dame swim and dive team to get back into action. With new leadership under head swimming coach Chris Lindauer and consistency from head diving coach Mark Bradshaw, the Irish have a redefined outlook for their program. Standout returners mixed with new talent puts the team in a promising spot heading into regular season competition. Though the women did not make the NCAA Power Rankings Preseason Top 25, the men clock in at No. 23

The Irish already took to the pool two weeks ago and claimed a double victory against Pittsburgh and Penn State. Both the men’s and women’s teams' ability to top the Panthers and the Nittany Lions is promising for their seasons’ outlooks.

There are several star returners to both the men’s and women's swim and dive squads that will help propel the Irish this season. For the men, school record holder Chris Guiliano enters his sophomore season with sights on his own 50 and 100 freestyle records. Junior Tyler Christianson returns for another season after some strong finishes and NCAA times last year. He also gained experience at the FINA World Championships. Junior NCAA qualifiers Kaden Smesko and Stephan Lukashev will certainly add depth to the team. So will seniors Jack Hoagland and NCAA-qualifier Cason Wilburn. As the only diving senior, William Rains will help transition the new diving talent.

For the women, sophomore Madelyn Christman was dubbed “one to watch” by Lindauer himself. Senior Coleen Gillilan is likely to gain points for the Irish in her final season. The women have their sights on NCAA qualifiers this year, as they only sent one (graduated) female swimmer last year. Sophomore diver Calie Brady was also at NCAA’s and continued to impress at this year’s Pitt versus Penn State dual after coming off a standout freshman season. 

New, top-ranked talent also abounds with 10 new freshmen for the men’s swim team and two for the dive team. These newcomers accounted for several top-three finishes at the Pitt versus Penn State tri-meet. As for the women’s side, they welcome six new swimmers — one of them being Coleen Gillilan’s sister, Renee — and one new diver.

With the Irish opening their home slate on Nov. 11 against No. 10 Louisville, it will be all hands on deck. The meet is even more important than meets the eye, though. Lindauer is an alum and the former associate head coach of the Cardinals. Graduate student Colton Paulson is also a former Cardinal. The Cardinals will visit South Bend with three meets under their belt. Thus, they should give the Irish a true test of their depth and performance thus far.

Notre Dame swim and dive has a busy schedule. This differs quite a bit from last year, when several meets were canceled or abridged due to COVID-19 and other issues. After their dual against Louisville, the Irish take to Texas for a weekend with UT-Austin followed by the annual Ohio State Invitational. The U.S. Open rounds things off for 2022.

The Irish resume competition in January 2023 with a Navy-Princeton tri-meet on the docket. The Tim Welsh Classic rounds out the Irish’s regular season as they move on to the ACC Championships in mid-February. Here, the season will end for most. But select men and women will qualify for the NCAA Championships, which are held throughout March. 

With the conglomeration of talent existing on the swim and dive squad, the future is bright for Lindauer and Bradshaw. The performance against Louisville will set the tone for the season, and Irish swimmers and divers new and old are looking for a victory. Friday’s matchup against Louisville, its alumni meeting for the year, begins at 3 p.m. ET at the Rolfs Aquatic Center.

Contact Madeline Ladd at