Irish set to build off of record season
Observer Sports Staff | Thursday, October 5, 2017
The Irish will look to start their 2017-18 campaign strong when they host the annual Dennis Stark Relays and their first dual meet against No. 10 Louisville this weekend.
Overall, the 2016-2017 campaign was a successful one for both the men’s and women’s programs. The men finished 25th in the NCAA championships with a program-record 29 points, Notre Dame’s best placing at NCAAs in program history and a bronze medal finish in the ACC championships. The women’s team concluded last season with a seventh place finish at the ACC championships and sent a program record 10 participants to the NCAA championships.
Heading into this season, the Irish are returning a number of key swimmers from last year. On the men’s side, Notre Dame returns senior captains Rob Whitacre and Justin Plaschka. Whitacre is the program record-holder in the 100- and 200-yard backstrokes and was a part of the record-setting 400-yard medley at NCAAs this past spring. Plaschka, the school record-holder in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle and the 100-yard fly, competed in the FINA World Championships in Hungary for Team Jamaica, finishing 41st overall in the 50-yard butterfly. Other key returners for the men’s team include juniors Tabahn Afrik and Matt Grauslys, in addition to sophomores Jack Montesi and Aaron Schultz — all of whom were NCAA qualifiers.
The women’s team returns senior captains Molly Treble and Annie Crea. Key returners for the women’s program include NCAA qualifiers in juniors Meaghan O’Donnell and Kyra Sarazen as well as sophomores Reilly Lanigan and Erin Sheehan.
The Dennis Stark Relays combines a mixture of conventional and unconventional events. Traditional events featured in the meets will be: 200-, 400- and 800-yard freestyles and the 400-yard medley relays. The unconventional events will be the 300-yard butterfly, backstroke and breaststroke relays in addition to the 400-yard individual medley relay and the 1500-yard relay. Divers will compete in a diving relay and will compete in a synchronized event where men and women will alternate performing dives.
The dual meet against the Cardinals on Saturday will feature a traditional format of events for both swimmers and divers. While competing against the Cardinals this weekend, the Irish will be looking for some retribution, as Louisville beat out Notre Dame by one point to finish second at the ACC championships last season.
The Irish will compete in the Dennis Stark Relays on Friday starting at 5 p.m. before facing Louisville on Saturday morning at 11 a.m., with both events set to take place in Rolf’s Aquatic Center.