The Notre Dame Fighting Irish swept the Wisconsin Badgers fairly handily on Saturday in South Bend; even with the Notre Dame men swimming exhibitions in the final relay, the Fighting Irish took a 191.5-108.5 victory, while ND’s women won 171-126.
Wisconsin had a few bright spots, but overall the Irish looked very good and very deep against a Badger team that’s working on its depth, but is still a very top-heavy team.
The Irish men won the 200 medley relay by a relatively-large three-second margin, having the fastest split on every leg to touch 1st in 1:29.14, with Wisconsin behind them in 1:32.07. Notre Dame’s relay is a bit of an unusual one – it starts with Ayhan Bogac, then a very good breaststroker Cameron Miller (who split 24.63). Their best freestyler though, Frank Dyer, swam the butterfly leg and split a fantastic 21.13, and the freestyle leg was swum by a breaststroker Zach Stephens in 20.02. The Irish needed Stephens to really step up in his sprinting to fill out their relays this year, and so far it seems as though he’s doing just that.
Wisconsin junior-transfer Nicholas Caldwell won the first individual race of the meet, the 1000 free, finishing seven seconds better than Notre Dame’s runner-up John Nappi.
But the Irish earned those points back and then some in the 200 free. There, their star Frank Dyer won in 1:39.25; Wisconsin freshman Brett Pinfold took 2nd in 1:40.89: a good time, but three full seconds slower than he was a day earlier against Northwestern.
Notre Dame then picked up more big points thanks to a 1:41.08 3rd-place finish from Kevin Hughes.
In the men’s 100 backstroke, another one of those top-side stars for Wisconsin took the win; defending NCAA 200 backstroke champ Drew teDuits won in 49.88, beating Ayhan’s 50.18 (Ayhan was better on the medley).
TeDuits later would win the 200 back in 1:48.91, with teammate Ryan O’Donnell taking 2nd in 1:49.92.
Stephens showed off his versatility in the 5th men’s event of the night, the 100 breaststroke. He won that race in 55.37, which is his best time of the season, and beat his teammate Miller (56.03) for that win. Wisconsin’s Australian import Nick Schafer took 3rd in 56.65.
Not to be deemed just a sprinter, Stephens tagged on a win in the 200 breaststroke in 2:00.92. Schafer was 2nd in that race in 2:02.27, and Miller took 3rd in 2:03.28.
In the butterfly events on the men’s side, it was another Notre Dame sweep. First the 200 went to John Williamson with a 1:51.02; the Irish went 1-2-3-4 in that race.
They compounded that later in the 100 fly, going 1-2 with Pat Olson winning in 50.18 and Williamson taking 2nd in 50.49. Wisconsin freshman Cannon Clifton broke the run by putting in a 51.51 for 3rd. The butterfly races are going to be a challenge for the Badgers this year after Daniel Lester’s graduation; Clifton is not primarily a butterflier (he’s an IM’er/freestyler), but he’s good enough at least to fill that fly leg on the medleys as a freshman, and hopefully continue developing in that regard.
Stephens picked up a third individual win of the day (he was four-for-four overall), taking the 200 IM in 1:50.28 ahead of teammate Colin Babcock in 1:51.66 (Babcock earlier won the 100 free in 45.81). Wisconsin’s top finisher was Drew teDuits in 1:52.92. He had a solid front-half to his race, but couldn’t hold off the Notre Dame men on the breaststroke leg.
Notre Dame’s Dyer added a his second win of the day in the 50 free with a 20.57, and then in perhaps the biggest-name head-to-head of the meet topped Caldwell in the 500 free 4:31.42-4:33.11.
Notre Dame took a calculated risk, and with their two best freestylers Dyer and Stephens having exhausted their entries for the meet, had enough of a cushion that it didn’t matter. Wisconsin won that final relay in a runaway, touching in 3:04.08 that included a 45.9 leadoff from Brett Pinfold. Notre Dame’s runner-up relay was a 3:07.68.
The women’s teams started with a 400 medley relay rather than a 200, though the outcome was the same. Notre Dame picked up a two second victory with a 3:44.10, and Wisconsin finished 2nd in 3:46.16.
Both of those medleys are having some big step-up swims from freshmen on their butterfly legs. For Notre Dame, freshman flyer Katie Miller split 55.22, and they swam a good time without even using Cat Galleti – her addition to this relay probably improves it by almost a second.
Wisconsin used a similar strategy, putting freshman Dana Grindall on the fly leg instead of Rebecka Palm, and she too looked very good in 56.16.
With the race out-of-contention by the end, Ivy Martin split a relatively-modest 49.99 on Wisconsin’s anchor leg, but she followed that up with winning times of 22.67 in the 50 free; 50.55 in the 100 free; and then a 50.32 lead-off leg on the 400 free relay where the Badgers ran away with a win of their own 3:24.87-3:30.49.
Outside of her domination, though, it was almost all Notre Dame. Emma Reaney picked up a win in the 200 free, swimming 1:50.42, with Kelly Ryan just behind in 1:51.03.
Reaney would then win the 100 breast in 1:02.04, fairly easily, and the 200 breast in 2:17.22, ahead of the 2:19.81 from Wisconsin’s Anna Meinholz. Reaney has sort of bounced around this season, but she’s had at least one outstanding swim at each meet so far, and this time it was her 1:00.9 medley relay split in the 100 breaststroke.
Notre Dame went 1-2-3 in the 100 backstroke. The aforementioned Katie Miller won in 56.36, with Cat Galleti taking 2nd in 56.63 and Catherine Mulquin placing 3rd in 56.76.
With that backstroke depth for the Irish, senior All-American Kelly Ryan has been pushed more-and-more toward the freestyle events this season. Her 200 backstroke, however, still looks like it will be a primary event from her this year, and she won the race on Saturday in 1:59.96.
Other winners for Wisconsin included Rebecka Palm, who won the women’s 100 fly in 55.19 ahead of Galleti’s 55.91. The Badgers also swept the two longest events of the meet: Caroline Palm won the 500 free in 5:00.88, and Aja van Hout won the 1000 free in 10:08.40. Wisconsin, right now, has the superior distance group of these two teams, going 1-2 in each of those races.
Notre Dame’s Bridget Casey won the 200 fly in 2:02.29, just out-touching Dana Grindall’s 2:02.45.
Both teams are now on a mini-hiatus until their mid-season invites. Notre Dame’s men and women will travel to the Hawkeye Invitational at the beginning of December, while Wisconsin will head to the Texas Invite that same weekend.
Full meet results available here.