Competitor Coach of the Month is a recurring SwimSwam feature shedding light on a U.S.-based coach who has risen above the competition. As with any item of recognition, Competitor Coach of the Month is a subjective exercise meant to highlight one coach whose work holds noteworthy context – perhaps a coach who was clearly in the limelight, or one whose work fell through the cracks a bit more among other stories. If your favorite coach wasn’t selected, feel free to respectfully recognize them in our comment section.
A stopwatch sport like swimming is a little different at the college level than other sports, where a series of blowout wins and a timely upset would have a team soaring up the national ranks. If that were the case in our sport, Notre Dame’s women would be putting together an awfully impressive resume.
In three October competitions, Mike Litzinger‘s Fighting Irish women are 5-0-1 with three legitimate blowouts. In a road season opener against three top-20 power ranked opponents (#7 Indiana, #13 Kentucky, #19 Missouri), Notre Dame was outstanding. They drubbed Mizzou 211.5-88.5, beast Kentucky pretty handily (172.5-127.5) and managed a tie with Indiana, widely considered a top 10 NCAA program.
A week and a half later, Notre Dame demolished Miami and Georgia Tech on the road, then returned home last weekend to knock out Purdue while winning 12 of 16 events.
As of now, based on season-best times, Notre Dame is projected to finish 19th in a mock NCAA meet swum with 2018-2019 times. While that’s no perfect predictor of post-season success, it does show the high level of swimming Notre Dame has put together over the past month, in just the program’s fourth season under Litzinger.
And it’s been the youth leading the charge. Freshman Bayley Stewart is currently ranked 11th in the NCAA in the 200 back, and not far off her lifetime-best. Sophomore Lindsay Stone ranks 3rd nationwide in the mile. And junior Abby Dolan is currently ranked to score in both the 100 and 200 frees.
While October projections are no guarantee of March success, it’s clear that very few teams have had as good an October as the Fighting Irish.
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