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Friday, March 1, 2024
The Observer

Irish gear up for ACCs, aim toward NCAAs 

The Notre Dame swimming and diving championship season kicks off this week with the ACC Men’s and Women’s Championships taking place February 14-18 in Greensboro, North Carolina. Forty-two Irish men and women are ready to hit the deck down south and contend with top ACC teams. This count is composed of 18 men, 18 women and three divers on each side. Head coach Chris Lindauer describes the team as “hungry” as they prepare to compete. For him, team environment and attitude is a priority for the weekend. 

“We’ve worked really hard this year and followed the process and believed in it along the way,” Lindauer said. “I’m excited to see them swim freely and with Notre Dame passion. Culture-wise for us, team is the number one priority and there’s nothing like swimming for your team and with your heart.”

ACCs will be the Irish freshmen’s first taste of a true college postseason meet. Lindauer has reiterated the importance of approaching the meet with a “business trip” mindset. In other words, a professional approach toward the meet is what he feels it takes to deliver top performances. 

“It’s exciting for freshmen... to give them this opportunity early on,” Lindauer said. “It’s definitely a learning experience. There’s no club meet like ACCs that they’ve been to. ACCs has more of a backyard brawl-type feel to it. A lot of this is a learning experience for the freshman and we do our best to bring them along the way and prepare them for what goes on mentally at the meet.”

Lindauer is looking toward senior leadership this week to help lead by example. This leadership team is what Lindauer describes as the “glue” that keeps the team bonded together.  

“As they say, a team goes as seniors go,” Lindauer said. “Without that student-athlete upperclassmen leadership, you lose that bond,” Lindauer said. “They’re so important in helping guide this meet. It’s one thing for the coach to say something, but it’s another thing for an upperclassman or teammate to reaffirm and show it.”

In terms of swimmers to watch, senior Coleen Gillilan has the potential to dazzle on the women’s side. As one of the top performers in the 100 butterfly, Gillilan has the opportunity to swim a personal best and score some serious points for the Irish. She will also be a key relay player for the women. 

“We’re excited to see her experience and leadership at play,” Lindauer said. “We want her to just go race and have fun, that’s a big part of this. It’s certainly exciting to see what she can do.” 

For the men, sophomore Chris Guiliano is someone to watch. Guiliano recently broke the school 100 freestyle record untapered at the Tim Welsh Classic where he touched the wall in 42.32 seconds. Freshman Tommy Janton has also seen much success in backstroke this season, coming just short of the 200 backstroke school record at Tim Welsh. Finally, seniors Jack Hoagland and Cason Wilburn are leaders also capable of posting top times. 

“Jack is up at the top in all three of his events. Just really excited for him,” Lindauer said. 

This meet will be the test of the Irish’s training throughout the whole season. Lindauer described some of the training techniques he has used with his swimmers such as early-morning race practices and extensive film viewing. Breaking down quality and rehearsing for the big day have been two major priorities for Lindauer. 

Though this meet is a big step in the Irish postseason, it is far from the end for some swimmers. Lindauer’s goal for ACCs — aside from performing well as a team — is to qualify as many people for the NCAA tournament as possible. According to Lindauer, a meet of this caliber is the perfect opportunity to give swimmers a shot to earn these qualifying times. 

“We want to bring all five relays on both genders and have multiple NCAA qualifiers,” Lindauer said. “We can do that by going out there and doing what we can do. This is another step as we climb the ladder of meets and approach NCAA championships.” 

The competition begins in Greensboro on Tuesday, Feb. 14. The 800 freestyle relay and the 200 medley relay will be first on the docket for the Irish, giving them the chance to be the best in program history and post some top finishes early on.