Notre Dame sweeps diving events to take down Illinois
Zach Klonsinski | Monday, November 17, 2014
Notre Dame wrapped up its fall home schedule Friday evening with a 157-143 victory over Illinois at Rolfs Aquatic Center.
The team victory over the Illini (3-3) was marked by individual wins in 10 events for the Irish (4-5), including a dominating performance in the diving portion of the meet. Notre Dame took the top three spots in both the 1-meter and 3-meter diving events, which Irish interim head coach Tim Welsh said gave a huge boost to his team.
“We love our divers,” Welsh said. “1-2-3, 1-2-3. You look at the scoreboard, that’s 32-6. That’s more than we won by.”
Irish senior Allison Casareto claimed the 1-meter diving crown, followed by juniors Emma Gaboury and Lindsey Streepey. Gaboury then swapped places with Casareto in the 3-meter to earn the victory.
Notre Dame also swept the 200-yard breaststroke, but Illinois returned the favor in the 500-yard freestyle event, taking the top three spots.
“It was a three-point meet, and then the breaststrokers go 1-2-3,” Welsh said. “And then because was going to be a toughness test, Illinois came back in the 500[-yard freestyle]. It was that tough a meet. You look like you get an advantage, and then no, you don’t.”
Welsh said that, as the meet stayed close throughout, he thought the dual would come down to the final race, the 400-yard freestyle relay.
“The meet was within three points [again],” Welsh said of the moment. “We huddled with the swimmers and … they said, ‘We’re tough. We’re good to go.’ … We thought it was going to end with the last relay.”
Irish sophomore Katie Miller changed that, coming through in the second-to-last event to win the 200-yard individual medley. Miller out-touched Illinois sophomore Gabbie Stecker by three-tenths of a second to seal the win for Notre Dame.
“Katie Miller was in the huddle before and I asked her, “Katie, are you tough?’ and she said, ‘I’m tough,’” Welsh said. “[She] won that 200 IM with the meet pretty much on the line. … That was a very, very big win for us.”
Senior Emma Reaney continued to lead the Irish overall, collecting victories in the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke, while also helping the 200-yard medley relay team give the Irish a strong start to the dual meet. The squad, composed of Reaney, sophomore Catherine Mulquin, senior Courtney Whyte and junior Catherine Galletti, beat the Illinois relay team by over a second in a race Welsh had said looked very even on paper before the meet.
“As we said at the beginning, that first race was going to be an indicator race,” Welsh said. “If you turn that around and say we only got six points instead of the 11 [for winning], we end up at 152 for our final score, and you need 151 to win. So it was still a heck of a meet.”
Mulquin picked up an individual victory in the 100-yard freestyle while Galletti earned two individual crowns in the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard butterfly. Senior Bridget Casey also finished fastest in the 200-yard butterfly.
Welsh said Wednesday that the meet would serve a test of his team’s resiliency. After the meet, he said the team handled it very well.
“Illinois was tough. They raced us tough, and a lot of the races came down to who was going to be tough all the way through the race,” Welsh said. “What that really means is heart. Who’s got the biggest heart? Who’s going to keep going?”
Notre Dame now has a break over the next few weeks. The Irish swam in four events over the last two weeks and Welsh said the chance to rest is coming at the perfect time.
“The beauty of having Thanksgiving in there is you get to sleep for five days,” Welsh said. “I think anytime you give a college team a chance to get a good night’s sleep five nights in a row, they’re going to feel better.
“I can tell you we’re looking forward to that.”
The Irish are back in action in early December, with the swimming team traveling to Austin, Texas, for the Texas Invitational on Dec. 4-6. At the same time, the diving squad will head west to Iowa City, Iowa, for the Hawkeye Invitational on Dec. 5-7.