Irish strive to finish season on a high note
Sean Kilmer | Thursday, February 5, 2015
Notre Dame aims to finish off its regular season on a high note Saturday when it takes on Cleveland State in seniors’ last chance to swim competitively at Rolfs Aquatic Center.
The Irish (5-6) come off two wins and a loss in the Shamrock Invitational last weekend. Notre Dame defeated Missouri State and Incarnate World handily but fell to Big Ten foe Iowa.
In the Shamrock Invitational, the Irish set two pool records and said goodbye to 14 seniors on the official senior day. Among the record breakers was senior John Nappi, who broke the pool record for the 1,650-yard freestyle with a time of 15:21.60.
The 800-yard freestyle relay C-team also eclipsed a record time with a 6:35.03 mark. The team consisted of seniors Kevin Hughes, Broderick Kelly and Patrick Murphy and junior Michael Hudspith. That group broke a record previously held by a University of Michigan relay team.
Saturday’s competition marks Notre Dame’s final tune-up for the ACC Championships and will give swimmers a chance to evaluate themselves, freshman Justin Plaschka said.
“I’m definitely excited for this meet against Cleveland State, as it’s the last dual meet of my freshman season,” Plaschka said. “I’ll just look to do my best that I can because this meet will be a good test to see what position I am in and what I need to do in training the next few weeks.”
Cleveland State (5-6) has enjoyed a strong 2014-15 season. The Vikings compete in the Horizon League and will seek to test the Irish in multiple areas, most notably 3-meter diving and the 100-yard backstroke.
Cleveland State sophomore Danny Roberts, last week’s Horizon League Diver of the Week, recently scored a 324.53 in the 3-meter event, a number that could push a deep Irish diving team. Last weekend, the Irish claimed four out of the top five spots off the 3-meter board.
Philipp Sikatzki turned in a performance at his previous meet that would have beat any Irish swimmer in both the 100-yard backstroke and 100-yard butterfly last weekend. His 48.74 in the 100-yard backstroke would have beaten Irish junior Bogac Ayhan’s top time of 49.24 from last weekend. In the 100-yard fly, he would have won the race with a time of 47.97.
The 100-yard butterfly will feature Sikatzki and several Irish swimmers, including Plaschka and Ayhan.
“I’ll approach [this meet] as I do the rest of the dual meets: ready to race,” Plaschka said. “I’ll just get up ready to race as fast as I can, like I will when I have to race the top competitors at ACCs.”
After this weekend, the Irish head to the ACC championships, running from Feb. 25 through March 1 in Atlanta. The Irish finished sixth last year during a season in which they broke 15 school records.
Notre Dame and Cleveland State dive into the Rolfs Aquatic Center pool Saturday at 12 p.m.