Irish finish in seventh place in ACC championship
Michael Ivey | Wednesday, March 2, 2016
Notre Dame placed seventh overall at the ACC championship in Greensboro, North Carolina, over the weekend, finishing with 678 points.
Irish head coach Mike Litzinger said he was proud of the way his team competed as a unit.
“The guys did a tremendous job of competing and being a team,” Litzinger said. “That certainly showed in their performances, both individually and in relays. I am very proud of what they accomplished as a group.”
In the 400-yard freestyle relay, the Irish team of sophomore Justin Plaschka, junior Reed Fujan and freshmen Daniel Speers and Tabahn Afrik finished in second place with a finals time of 2:52.18. North Carolina State won the event in 2:48.52. Among the other notable finishes for the Irish at the conference championships were sophomore Rob Whitacre, who finished in sixth place in the 200-yard backstroke. The Irish had four swimmers finish in the top 14 in the 100-yard freestyle: Plaschka finished in seventh place after posting a 43.39 finals time, while Speers finished in 11th, and Fujan and Afrik ended up in a tie for 14th. Junior James Lichtenstein finished in 13th in the platform diving.
The Irish broke two school records during the meet. One was the final time of the 400-yard freestyle relay, and the other was Whitacre’s final time of 1:42.17 in the 200-yard backstroke prelims.
Litzinger said he was pleased at how every one of his swimmers was able to play a key role in his team’s finish.
“Every one of the 17 swimmers and two divers we took scored points and contributed to the success,” Litzinger said. “That is very hard to do in our league. Now it’s on to the NCAA and a chance to show what some of our people can do on a national stage.”
Litzinger said Notre Dame’s 400-yard freestyle relay in particular could have an impact on how teams view the Irish in the future.
“There were many, but seeing our guys’ take second in the 400 free relay was special,” Litzinger said. “I know that instance gave our team a label of being tough competitors, and to finish off the meet like that set a tone for the future that Notre Dame is ready to take on the challenge.”
Litzinger said there is still some room for improvement for his team leading up to the NCAA championship.
“We will go back to work, and we have an opportunity to sharpen our skill, work more on race strategy and focus on speed,” Litzinger said.
The NCAA championship takes place March 24-26 at the Georgia Tech Campus Recreation Center in Atlanta. Litzinger said his team will be ready to face off against the best in college swimming.
“The men’s NCAA is simply the fastest meet in the world,” Litzinger said. “When I say that, I mean in terms of depth. It’s not for the faint of heart. Our guys need to step up and make a statement that they are there to compete, and I believe we will.”