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Sports

Notre Dame get set for first combined season in 20 years

| Thursday, September 29, 2016

The season kicks off for the Notre Dame men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams this Friday at the McCaffree Pool at Michigan State in East Lansing, Michigan.

There are high hopes for the Irish this season due to the freshly updated program driven by head coach Mike Litzinger. This will be his first full season as head coach of the new combined program after leading the women’s team all last year and finishing out the season coaching the men’s team as well. He sent four women and six men to the NCAA championships and broke six school records in his short time as head coach in the 2015-16 season.

The Irish will send, for the first time in over 20 years, a combined swimming and diving team to East Lansing to face both Michigan State and Iowa. The men’s and women’s teams now practice and compete together, a move made in hopes of improving recruiting and climbing to the top of the NCAA rankings. This will be the first meet in which the men’s and women’s teams will both be guided under one collective coaching staff, so it is the first opportunity to see how that change is affecting the Notre Dame program.

Sophomore David Stewart said he is looking forward to seeing the combined team compete together for the first time.

“This first meet will be a great way to see how we’re developing as a team thus far,” Stewart said. “The team dynamic has been great lately now that we have combined the men’s and women’s teams under one coaching staff, and now that we are in sync as a squad, we are definitely on track for a great year on both sides.”

Senior Danielle Margheret also showed confidence in the new combined team, saying she likes the dynamic the combined team brings.

“This year we really hit the ground running with practices starting earlier and it has had a very noticeable, positive impact on the team as a whole,” Margheret said. “Also, now that we’re combined, we have become pretty tight-knit, and we’re really looking forward to seeing how that translates in the pool on Friday.”

This is the season opener for Michigan State with the swimming being held outdoors and diving events taking place indoors.

The team is facing a more difficult schedule this season compared to previous years and this first meet launches the start of tough competition. Looking ahead, Notre Dame hosts the Dennis Stark Relays at the beginning of October. The highlight of the fall schedule for the Irish will be a home meet against Miami, Rutgers and Purdue at the end of October.

“Both the men and the women have been working hard in and out of the pool since the very first day of classes to achieve our goals of being an ACC powerhouse and also achieving a high team GPA,” Stewart said. “I personality can’t wait to see what this season holds for us.”

The opening meet gets under way at McCaffree Pool in East Lansing, Michigan, at 4 p.m. on Friday.

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