Seven to compete at NCAA Championships
Observer Sports Staff | Thursday, March 27, 2014
Seven Notre Dame swimmers and one diver will hit the pool at the NCAA Championships beginning Thursday at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center in Austin, Texas.
Senior Frank Dyer and juniors Zach Stephens and John Williamson qualified for individual swimming events, while senior Colin Babcock, junior Kevin Hughes, sophomore Matthew Buerger and freshman Tom Anderson travel to the meet as part of Irish relays. Freshman Joe Coumos advanced in the diving portion of the championships after a strong performance at the Zone C diving meet on March 13-15.
Dyer, Stephens, Williamson and Hughes are all returnees to the NCAA Championships, having swum in last year’s meet, while Babcock, Buerger, Anderson and Coumos will make their championship debuts.
On Thursday’s first day of action, Notre Dame swimmers will compete in the 200-yard freestyle and 400-yard medley relays; Stephens will race in the 200-yard individual medley, and Dyer and Williamson square off in the 500-yard freestyle.
The 200-yard medley and 800-yard freestyle relays take place Friday when Williamson (100-yard butterfly), Dyer (200-yard freestyle) and Stephens (100-yard breaststroke) also swim in separate individual events.
In Saturday’s final sessions, the three individual qualifiers round out their weekend swims, with Dyer in the 100-yard freestyle, Stephens in the 200-yard breaststroke and Williamson in the 200-yard butterfly. The 400-yard freestyle relay closes out the meet and the season for the Irish.
In diving, Coumos competes in the one meter Thursday, the three meter Friday and the platform Saturday.
Several Notre Dame swimmers carry high seeds into the meet that could translate into points for the Irish. Stephens enters the meet ranked seventh in the 200-yard breaststroke and 11th in the 100-yard breaststroke, while his No. 17 seed in the 200-yard individual medley lies just out of top-16 scoring range.
Dyer, who is the program’s first four-time NCAA qualifier, holds Notre Dame’s overall highest seed at fourth in the 200-yard freestyle, and Williamson’s 200-yard butterfly qualifying time is good for a 14th-place seed.
In last year’s meet in Indianapolis, Notre Dame finished in 36th place with seven points. Williamson (13th place, 200-yard butterfly), Stephens (16th, 200-yard breaststroke) and the 800-yard freestyle relay of Dyer, Hughes and former Irish swimmers Bill Bass and John McGinley (16th) collected honorable mention All-American accolades.
This year’s meet will also be the final competition for Irish coach Tim Welsh, who will retire at the end of the season. Welsh has led Notre Dame for the past 29 years and has seen 23 Irish swimmers and divers qualify for NCAA Championships during his career.
Welsh and his eight 2014 qualifiers compete at the NCAA Championships at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center in Austin, Texas, beginning Thursday and concluding Saturday.