Courtesy: Notre Dame Athletics
NOTRE DAME, Indiana — The Notre Dame Swim and Dive teams will host the University of Cincinnati in Notre Dame’s first official home meet of the season Friday. The meet, originally scheduled to be hosted in Indianapolis and also include IUPUI, was cancelled due to county health restrictions in Indianapolis, and rescheduled to be held at Notre Dame with just the Bearcats.
“When IUPUI had to cancel the meet because of the protocols that were in place in that particular county, Cincinnati coach Mandy Commons-DiSalle and I connected, and she offered to come to us, which was very gracious of her,” Notre Dame head swim coach Mike Litzinger noted. “We both need meets. They’re few and far-between in this climate right now. We were able to work it out, and we’ll go on Friday.”
The meet will be held in two sessions Friday, beginning with the women at 12:30 p.m. ET and the men following. Live timing will be available at und.com/swimmingstats.
Notre Dame hosts Cincinnati in the first official meet of the season for both teams.
The meet will consist of two sessions, with the women competing first, followed by the men. The expanded meet schedule is due to COVID-19 protocols and safety measures to ensure physical distancing. In accordance with health guidelines, no spectators will be permitted to attend the meet.
“We’ve done the virtual meet and the intrasquad competition and seen some outstanding results from those, but just to match up with another team gives us a little bit more sense of normalcy, especially heading into the holiday break knowing that we’ll have an official meet in the books,” Litzinger noted. “It’s going to be the result of a semester’s worth of training, and it’s just great to be able to get off the blocks against somebody else other than ourselves.”
Date: Dec. 4, 2020
Location: Rolfs Aquatic Center (Notre Dame, IN)
Live timing: und.com/swimmingstats
Note: No spectators permitted due to health guidelines
Litzinger’s scout: “Cincinnati is one of the most rapidly improving teams in the country. Mandy has done an outstanding job there with both the swimming and the diving pieces. They always have athletes that are at a high level, so it will be fun for us to get together and see where we are, as neither of us have had an official competition. With a 16-event format, we’re just going to see what happens.
“Leading up to this, Jack Hoagland is always someone to watch on our team, Josh Bottelberghe is another, and I’m looking forward to seeing what our sprint group can do. They’ve been doing a great job lately. On the women’s side, of course, Coleen Gillilan is one to watch. Our senior leadership has been really good with Rachel Wittmer. Carly Quast and Kelly Straub. Cailey Grunhard has been swimming very, very well.
“We’d like to see what they can do, and again, it will be great to have a competition under our belt as we head into the holidays.”
Notre Dame opened its season with a virtual meet against West Virginia November 6-7. The Irish set a program record in the women’s 100 Fly, courtesy sophomore Coleen Gillilan’s 52.07, and Notre Dame sophomore Jack Hoagland, the reigning ACC Men’s Swimming Freshman of the Year, posted two additional pool records: 8:51.86 in the 1000 Free and 4:16.87 in the 500 Free.
In all, the Irish claimed the top finish in 32-of-34 events over the course of the meet, sweeping all the relay categories and the diving events.
The Irish come off a shortened 2019-20 season placing fifth (women) and sixth (men) at the ACC Championships. The men posted a 2019-20 dual-meet record of 7-4, while the women earned a 9-3 record.
The Irish boasted 20 CSCAA All-Americans for 2019-20 and 19 members on the All-ACC Academic Team. In addition, Notre Dame swimmers reached the podium at the ACC Championships six times, with two individual conference titles. Sophomore swimmer Jack Hoagland was named men’s ACC Freshman of the Year for swimming. In total, Irish swimmers and divers were honored as ACC Performers of the Week on 11 occasions in 2019-20. In the postseason, 11 Notre Dame swimmers qualified for the NCAA Championships, and the Zone Diving meet was cut short due to COVID-19.
This fall, with the resuming of in-person classes, the Irish returned to the pool, with new faces on the coaching staff. Mark Bradshaw, Olympian and two-time NCAA Diving Coach of the Year, joined the Notre Dame staff as head diving coach after the retirement of longtime diving coach Caiming Xie, and Becca Weiland, former head women’s coach at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, was brought on as an assistant coach.
“I’m looking forward to taking on this next-level challenge at Notre Dame. I have known Caiming Xie since our time together with the Olympic team, and I have much respect for the program he has built,” Bradshaw noted. “Talking to the staff at Notre Dame, our goals aligned with the idea of achieving at a high level not just in our sport, but for our university as well.”
“I am incredibly honored to be granted the opportunity to work with some of the best student-athletes and coaches in the nation,” Weiland expressed. “The University of Notre Dame has a rich history filled with exciting campus traditions, elite-level academics, campus pride and overall program success. I am looking forward to what the future will bring at Notre Dame and being a part of the Fighting Irish family.”
“Competing is something that we’ve been looking forward to, and obviously, we train to compete; we just don’t train to train,” Notre Dame head swimming coach Mike Litzinger said. “We’ve been training an awful lot lately, which is great, and we’re happy to be in our environment with minimal interruption.
“The competitive spirit of the team is ramping up, and it’s what they do best,” Litzinger, entering his sixth season at the helm of the program, added.
When Notre Dame returns in 2021, the Irish will travel to Cleveland for a dual meet against Cleveland State Jan. 16, and will return home the next weekend to host the annual Shamrock Invitational Jan. 22-23.
Notre Dame closes out the regular season with a dual meet with West Virginia in Morgantown from Jan. 29-30.
From there, the Irish head into the postseason, with the ACC Championships in Greensboro beginning with the women Feb. 17-20 and continuing with the men Feb. 24-27. The diving team will continue to the NCAA Zone C Diving Championships March 12-14 in Ann Arbor. The season concludes with the NCAA Championships back in Greensboro, with the women March 17-21 and the men March 24-27.
With seven of 11 NCAA qualifiers returning for the Irish in 2020-21, the veteran roster is strong, and according to Litzinger, will be well-supported by new faces in the freshman class.
Swimmers including sophomores Hoagland, a three-time ACC medalist, and ACC bronze medalist Gillilan return for the Irish, among other strong upperclassmen. Litzinger noted that veterans Bayley Stewart, Luciana Thomas, Cason Wilburn, Brendan Santana and Bottelberghe were swimmers to watch, along with newcomers.
“[Freshman] Sydney Whiting is really exceptional and can follow in the long line of 200 freestylers that we’ve had in this program,” he noted. “[Sophomore] Ellie Jew, a breaststroker and transfer from Arizona, is going to make an impact.”