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Men’s Swimming: Welsh to retire, Tallman to take over

Mary Green | Wednesday, November 20, 2013


After 29 years at the helm of the Notre Dame men’s swimming program, head coach Tim Welsh announced Nov. 11 he will retire at the end of the season. Associate head coach Matt Tallman will take over the position.

Welsh said the time is right for Tallman to take the reins for a variety of reasons, including a “paradigm shift in swimming training” and Notre Dame’s move to the ACC this year.

“My wife, Jackie, and I have been talking about it for a couple of years now,” he said. “And then one of the real pluses for this year is that the current junior class is very large and very strong, and so to have that class as a senior class next year seemed to make a lot of sense. It’ll be a very strong transition and great senior leadership. The idea was to make this transition as smooth as possible.”

One of those juniors, Zach Stephens, said the pool deck will look a little different without Welsh at each practice and meet.

“It’s certainly going to be different,” he said. “It’s two different coaches, two different coaching perspectives, so it’s definitely going to be different. But the nice thing is that, since we’ve had coach Tallman around, then we kind of know his coaching style, so we’re used that, and there’s not quite as big of a transition.”

Tallman, who has coached under Welsh since 2001 and has been his associate head coach for the past seven years, said he will bring some subtle changes to the program next year, but its core will remain the same.

“The biggest thing is, the guys we bring in are great guys and want to be the best and represent Notre Dame as best as they can as good people and model citizens, and that’s what Tim would want the most,” he said.

Stephens and senior Frank Dyer both said Welsh, the winner of Notre Dame’s Presidential Achievement Award in 2009, calls on each of his athletes to build their identity outside the pool and focus on accomplishments other than personal-bests and wins.

“He really emphasizes that we are student-athletes, and he likes seeing swimmers that are not only swimmers but also students and volunteers in the community,” Stephens said. “So he tries to make us into well-rounded individuals, not just swimmers.”

Dyer said Welsh has been a great role model for the team.

“He really respects us and really wants us to do the best we can in the water and even more so, he respects and understands and wants us to succeed and achieve out of the water,” Dyer said.

Just as he views the members of his team as more than swimmers, Welsh said he sees himself as more than just a swim coach and plans to carry that idea into his retirement.

“I want to stay active as an educator somehow,” he said. “I’m definitely looking forward to writing; I just want to be active … be active in an educational sense, but I’m not sure what that means yet.”

Welsh also said he and his wife want to spend more time with their sons, Tim, a 2002 Notre Dame graduate and professor at Loyola University New Orleans, and John, a 2005 Notre Dame graduate currently pursuing his PhD in Italian Studies at Harvard.

With one last season remaining as the leader on the deck, Welsh said he hopes to accomplish the same team goals as always.

“We want to win as much as possible in this season,” he said. “We want it to be great in every way. We want the guys to do best times in every way. We want to have a grand entrance into the ACC, and we want to carry on people to the national meets and do well. 

“It’s always all about improvement. So if the guys improve, and we have a grand finale, it’ll be great.”

Once that finale arrives, Dyer said he looks forward to exiting the pool one last time with the first person he met at Notre Dame and the longest-tenured coach in program history.

“I think it’s really special to go out with him,” he said. “I’m really privileged to say that I’ll be in the last senior class that he guided through their four years and molded into young men – young, smart men, as he likes to say.”

Contact Mary Green at [email protected]