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Friday, April 12, 2024
The Observer


No. 11 Irish men look to make waves at NCAAs

Notre Dame sends ten swimmers, two divers to Indianapolis for season finale

Coming in hot off a historic second place finish at the 2024 ACC Championships, No. 11 Notre Dame men’s swim and dive looks to make history again — this time on the grandest stage of collegiate swimming that the NCAA has to offer. The meet, held in Indianapolis, runs from March 27-30 at the IU Natatorium at IUPUI. Indianapolis will also host the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials in mid-June, where some Irish swimmers will be in attendance.

Six men will be representing the Irish in individual events, with four as relay alternates. The highlight of these to watch will be junior freestyler Chris Guiliano. In addition to relays, the 2024 ACC Swimmer of the Meet will be competing in his signature three freestyle events. He is seeded third in the 50 (18.57) and 200 (1:31.16), as well as first place in the 100 (40.62). Guiliano was champion in these three events at ACCs, breaking his own school records in the process. He also broke the conference record in the 100 freestyle and tied it in the 200. Guiliano has the potential to make history for the Irish and bring some serious points back to South Bend.

NCAAs has been long in the making for the Irish — a goal they have been working to all year. There is plenty of excitement leading up to the big day that will kick off competition.

“We are eager — it’s one of those moments where it’s like ‘when is it gonna get there?’” Guliano said. “You’re chomping at the bit. We want to go out and put ourselves on the top.”

Graduate student and Guiliano’s fellow sprinter Abdelrahman Elaraby will compete at his third NCAAs, this time in the 50 freestyle (18.82), 100 freestyle (42.19) and 100 butterfly (45.03). Elaraby had a successful ACCs, setting the school record in the 100 butterfly. He is seeded 10th in the 50 freestyle at NCAAs, making it — on paper — his best chance to final.

Another graduate transfer on the roster, Tanner Filion has been hot for the Irish. Filion set the program record in the 100 backstroke, marking him as the first Irish swimmer to break 45 seconds in the event with a time of 44.99. He is seeded 15th in the event and will also swim 200 backstroke (1:41.51) and 100 fly (45.47).

Adding to the backstroke dominance, sophomore Tommy Janton is one to watch. He will be competing in the 100 (45.17) and 200 (1:39.21) backstroke. Janton is seeded 11th in the 200, an event he won at ACCs. He is also seeded 21st in the 100 backstroke and will compete in the 100 fly (46.36).

“We pride ourselves in the versatility of our underclassmen and upperclassmen,” head coach Chris Lindauer said. “We have those that have been to the meet and those who have never been to the meet. It’s understanding the dynamic of leadership, for those who have been in the role before to share their preparation in order to handle the pressure with those that haven’t.”

Fellow sophomore backstroker Marcus Gentry is making his first appearance at the NCAA Championships after a narrow miss at the cut last year. Gentry is seeded 20th in the 100 backstroke (45.12) and 25th in the 200 back (1:40.35). Like Janton, he will also swim the 100 fly (46.07).

To round out the individual competitors, sophomore Tate Bacon will debut at NCAAs after making it at 23rd in the 200 butterfly (1:41.76). This time is 0.06 off of the school record. Bacon will also swim the 100 butterfly (45.41) and 100 backstroke (47.16).

With all of these versatile swimmers competing together, Lindauer explains how they feed off each other’s energy.

“It’s a shared leadership space,” Lindauer said. “Everyone brings something to the table to eat and we eat collectively, together. It’s a shared vision and a shared responsibility. It doesn’t fall on one person or one member of our staff to lead the whole thing. When you have that unified front, you can go into a battle like NCAAs collectively and you are that much stronger because of it.”

Notre Dame will also bring senior Tyler Christianson, graduate student Luka Cvetko, sophomore Dillon Edge and graduate student Cason Wilburn to NCAAs as relay alternates. The Irish will be competing in the 800 freestyle relay, 200 free relay, 400 free relay, 200 medley relay and 400 medley relay, having set four new relay records at ACCs in all of these but the 800.

Relays will be crucial in the point hunting the Irish are preparing to do.

“We are on the prowl to score points,” Lindauer said. “It starts with day one with the 800 freestyle relay and the 200 medley relay. Those are both nationally ranked relays we have that are going to be scoring points. The higher we can climb the rankings, the more points we score. This meet is really an every point matters type mentality, taking advantage of those opportunities collectively as a team in all five relays we have.”

On the diving side of things, sophomores Daniel Knapp and Benedict Nguyen will represent the Irish on the boards. This is the second NCAAs for Knapp, while Nguyen is making his debut. Knapp qualified in both the 1-meter and 3-meter, placing second in the 1-meter (733.10). As a result of qualifying, he will also be able to compete in the 3-meter at NCAAs. He finished 11th with a score of 716.55. Nguyen, who shattered the Notre Dame platform record at ACC Championships (406.70) and won a bronze medal, will compete in the same event in NCCAs. His combined scores from Zone C totaled 694.00, good enough to finish fifth.

As the Irish enter Indianapolis with their strongest roster in years, the expectations are clear: make history.

“Ultimately, our goal is to be a top-10 team. We’ve never done that in program history — our highest finish is 18th and that was last year at NCAAs. That’s our vision, that’s our fire is to go fight for every single point to put our team in that position.”

Despite these lofty goals, Lindauer echoes the same message to his team that he has all season long — to control the controllables.

“We can’t worry about what any other program is doing,” Lindauer said. “We can only control what we can control in our preparation and execution. When those opportunities to excel arise, it is taking full advantage and capitalizing on the moment. That’s been really a testament to our season as a whole — embracing competition, embracing a challenge and having resilience. Knowing that it might not always go our way, that nothing is perfect. That resiliency piece is what allows you to come back and rise to the next challenge. We’ll take it one day at a time, one event at a time.”

The Men’s Division I Swimming and Diving Championships will kick off at 6 p.m. on Wednesday with the 800 freestyle relay and 200 medley relay.