Here Come the Irish: The Rise of Notre Dame Swimming

On the morning of Wednesday, June 19, 2024, a crowd of swimmers past and present from the University of Notre Dame filed into Lucas Oil Stadium. Dressed in Irish green, the group ended up taking over three suites at the starting block end of the stands. They were all there for one purpose: to cheer on Notre Dame athletes at the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials.

That morning, it was for a pair of rising juniors – Tommy Janton and Marcus Gentry – competing in the preliminary heats of the 200 backstroke. At night, it was for last summer’s breakout star Chris Guiliano, who continued his meteoric rise by winning the 100 freestyle.

Amongst a crowd of 22,209, a world record for attendance at a swim meet, the passion of the 70-strong section turned heads. Flags were waved, cowbells were rung, and every single person was on their feet.

It was enough to be noticed by on-deck commentator Brendan Hansen after the medal ceremony, prompting Guiliano to shout out the “Green Monster” in the stands.

By the end of his meet, Guiliano had become the first American man since Matt Biondi to qualify individually in the 50, 100, and 200 freestyle for a single Olympics, and Notre Dame’s first male athlete named to a U.S. Olympic Team for swimming.

Beyond Guiliano, the Notre Dame Swimming and Diving program has been riding a wave of momentum since head coach Chris Lindauer took over in 2022, and it’s been thanks to the passion of the student athletes and alumni.

It wasn’t an accident that generations of the Fighting Irish descended upon Indianapolis at the same time. This was planned as far back as the 2024 Men’s NCAA Championships back in March, where the men’s team recorded 10th place team finish, their highest in program history.

“We had a big bunch of green in the [IUPUI] Natatorium down the street,” said Karl Peterson (‘92), who helped to organize the box on Wednesday night. “And we all said, well, why not do that here?”

Peterson and his family have been instrumental to this new chapter of Notre Dame swimming. Thanks to their generosity, the head coach position was endowed in 2022, providing stability and funding for the program.

“My old ND swim coach, [Tim Welsh], would always say that our mission was to pursue athletic and academic excellence with self-discipline and love for one another,” said Peterson. “That is what we are seeing here this week.”

This kind of community involvement extends beyond the sport’s biggest stage. Alumni will often stop in at practices throughout the season, according to Tommy Janton.

“Sometimes we’ll come in and there’ll be people there just to say hi [and see] how we’re doing, because they’re all excited,” said Janton. “I think the latest we’ve had back is probably [from] the late seventies.”

Tommy Janton (left) and Tanner Filion (right) (photo: Jack Spitser)

Janton made two finals at these Trials, finishing 8th in the 100 back and 4th in the 200 back, and is hungry for more. But at the root of it, it’s about having fun with the rest of the team.

From Cason Wilburn’s perspective, who recently graduated after five years at Notre Dame, the new coaching staff has been the driving force behind Notre Dame’s recent success.

“I did the math, and I’ve had 15 or 16 different coaches in my five years here,” said Wilburn. “And then when the new coaching staff came in, they brought this new energy. We make meets fun. We have goals we want to meet, but along the way, it was all about having fun during that journey.”

That environment is what brought Tanner Filion to Notre Dame, who decided to take his Covid fifth-year in South Bend after spending four years at Division 3 Whitman College. He holds the D3 NCAA records in the 100 and 200 backstroke. This was his first season training long course, and he pulled off a 15th place finish in the 100 back at this meet.

“That’s really what ultimately drew me to Notre Dame,” said Filion. “It’s the alumni. The love of Notre Dame is so unique. Our swim meets are always packed back home. It’s something special in South Bend that I haven’t really found anywhere else.”

While Wilburn and Filion have officially joined the ranks of the alumni, the rest of the eight athlete contingent at Trials – including Sean Faikish, Lucas Logue, and Maggie Graves – returns to South Bend in the fall with goals to grow the “Green Monster” to greater heights.

No matter the Olympic medals or NCAA finishes in Notre Dame’s future, there will certainly be a sea of green in the stands, cheering them on.

“We try to be the most fun team,” said Gentry. “We always try to carry that energy anywhere we go.”

Janton affirmed: “Every meet that we go to, no matter how small.”

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Swammer11
25 days ago

Nothing on the investigation announced today?

HereWeGoAgain
Reply to  Swammer11
25 days ago

Odd that the BC false narrative would be told ad nauseum but nothing on ND…

Blastman
28 days ago

As a parent of a former Irish swimmer, I am thrilled to see the program reach these levels of success. The quote by Karl Peterson about former coach Tim Welsh embodies the true spirit that is Notre Dame Swimming. Our family feels incredibly fortunate that our son was able to swim for Coach Welsh. Anyone who swam for Tim knows that as good a swim coach as he was, Tim Welch was an even better life coach.
Best wishes for Coach Lindauer for continued success in Paris and for the program moving forward.
Go Irish!!!

FormerCoach
28 days ago

How about Ben Nguyen as a finalist at the diving trials in platform, when ND doesn’t even have a platform? I get it’s “SwimSwam” and all, but continuing to ignore that part of the group is contributing to a larger problem that could lead to the downfall of diving.

Murphy is my dad
Reply to  FormerCoach
26 days ago

Diving being part of swimming is a joke

Councilman’s Ghost
28 days ago

They should split the program so that they could bring in someone that’s actually interested in coaching the women’s team

GoIrish
28 days ago

Go IRISH! ☘️

Notre dame fan
28 days ago

Go Irish. Great to see Irish swimming in the news. I’m not sure Chris is 1st male ND athlete to go to Olympics though. Might want to double check that. Maybe 1st male swimmer?

Cold Water
Reply to  Laura Rosado
28 days ago

And Tyler Christianson literally 3 years ago for Panama…

Swamererer
Reply to  Laura Rosado
28 days ago

RUFIO!

Dan
28 days ago

Headline should be more specific…”The Rise of Notre Dame Men’s Swimming”.

Dr. Disrespect
Reply to  Dan
28 days ago

Username should be more specific… “Dan: The Rise of another Notre Dame Critic”.

Their women have made progress as well, but sometimes that progress is a little bit deeper than just what you read on SwimSwam.

Dan
Reply to  Dr. Disrespect
28 days ago

I’m for sure a critic of the ND women’s progress. There was a huge disparity in performance last season, ncaa scoring was 132 for men and 6 points for the women. All 6 points from diving. That seems like a fair critique to me.

Cold Water
Reply to  Dr. Disrespect
28 days ago

I think the comment about the women is pretty fair. What Chris G did this past week was amazing. The progress of Chris, Tommy Janton, and other guys has been truly special, but you have to take the good with the bad. The women did not score a swimming point at NCAA, the swim cloud ranking has regressed compared to two tough years of a covid year and a year with no head coach, slipped down the ladder in the ACC to 8th, women used to be ranked in CSCAA…not anymore, the Olympic trials team has shrunk considerably on the women’s side, etc.

UVA men catch a lot of crap on this site. It does feel that generally in these… Read more »

Isaac
Reply to  Cold Water
27 days ago

Cuz men are faster therefore more fun to watch. Unless you like slower swimming.

PADDY
Reply to  Dan
25 days ago

… or even better: “The Rise of Notre Dame Men’s Sprint Swimming Program” #onetimewonder