Season Recap: Welsh retires after final season as coach
Henry Hilliard | Friday, May 16, 2014
Notre Dame’s 2013-2014 campaign was defined by transition and adjustment, as the Irish entered the ACC and longtime head coach Tim Welsh announced his retirement after 29 years at the helm.
“I think this season was an emotional roller coaster ride from November through March,” Welsh said. “We were very successful, both on an individual level in terms of [senior] Frank Dyer becoming our first swimmer to earn All-American status, and on a team level, in terms of this group always remaining focused and swimming well all year long.”
Dyer, who holds the program record in all freestyle events, finished fifth in the 200-yard freestyle at the NCAA championships and was named an All-American. As a team, the Irish took 30th place at the national championships, in addition to a sixth place finish at the ACC championships and a 5-4 record in dual meets.
Overall, only one of the program’s records went unbroken this season.
“Just based off the numbers, this is the fastest team to date, but what really distinguished this team was the our strength from top to bottom in terms of stellar senior leadership joined with energetic freshmen who were able to contribute right away,” Welsh said.
Freshman Joe Cuomos also enjoyed a breakout season, becoming the first Notre Dame diver to qualify for the national championships in all three diving events.
“We were very proud about what Joe was able to do for us in his first season,” Welsh said. “It is remarkable to have a freshman be able to come in and compete at such a high level.”
As new members of the ACC, the Irish faced tough competition at the conference championships. Although they broke 15 program records over the course of the four-day meet and were in third place after the first day of competition, the Irish faded to sixth place in their conference debut.
“This year was absolutely a giant step forward for us in terms of redefining our position on the national level and through our new conference competition,” Welsh said. “Swimming in the ACC is a giant step. The conference is simply faster, deeper, and more intense than anything we had seen before.”
Three weeks later at the NCAA championships in Austin, Texas, Notre Dame earned 14 team points, the second-best finish in the program’s history.
Welsh, in his final season, continued to increase the number of Irish swimmers competing in the national championships. 20 of the 23 national-qualifying swimmers during Welsh’s tenure have qualified in the past four years.
“This season in particular has been about clarity,” Welsh said. “On a practical level we need to train faster and race faster going forward. But as far as identity goes, this season taught us what advancing on the national level means from top to bottom.”
His career as head coach completed, Welsh is slated to receive the National Collegiate and Scholastic Swimming Trophy, the highest honor the College Swimming Coaches Association of America can bestow, at the association’s banquet on May 22. Welsh retires from Notre Dame with 22 conference titles and a record of 326-179-1 in dual meets over 29 seasons. Matt Tallman, Welsh’s longtime assistant, will succeed the storied coach.
“Stepping aside is what is best for this team at this time,” Welsh said. “I plan to remain active in the program and I know that Matt embodies the vision for what we want this program to achieve going forward.”