Justin Plaschka sets school record at NCAA championships
Joe Everett | Thursday, March 31, 2016
In the past couple weeks, both the men and women’s swimming programs sent several athletes to the 2016 NCAA championships, held in Atlanta on the campus of Georgia Tech at the McAuley Aquatic Center.
The women’s meet was held March 16 through March 19, where Notre Dame qualified one swimmer and three divers. Freshman Ella Moynihan represented the Irish in the 200-yard freestyle, where she placed 50th, clocking in with a time of 1:47.46. With three more years ahead of her on campus, Moynihan reflected on her experience swimming in the fastest meet of her life.
“My biggest takeaway … was how talented and fast the female swimming world is and how much work and dedication it takes to be one of the best in this sport,” Moynihan said. “It was motivating to watch the girls winning national titles and knowing that they will most likely be representing our country in the upcoming olympics. It’s a fast meet, and it sure takes a lot of work to get there.”
As for the divers, seniors Emma Gaboury and Lindsey Streepey dove in the 1-meter, finishing 38th (252.70) and 41st (240.20), respectively. Gaboury and sophomore Annie Crea also competed in the 3-meter, with Gaboury taking 29th (290.70) and Crea finishing 43rd (273.80).
On the men’s side, a program record fell on the first day of competition. Sophomore Justin Plaschka, the only individual invitee from Notre Dame, aimed to break alumnus Frank Dyer’s school record of :19.57 in the 50-yard freestyle. He did just that, breaking Dyer’s mark by one one-hundredth of a second. Plaschka, who called the level of competition and overall atmosphere at the meet “so unlike any other college meet I’ve been to”, finished tied for 20th in the event.
That same day, the Irish 200-yard freestyle relay team finished 18th in the prelims (1:18.62), with Plaschka swimming the leadoff leg in :19.74, followed by freshman Daniel Speers (:19.34), freshman Tabahn Afrik (:19.69) and junior Trent Jackson (:19.85).
Later in the evening, the Irish swam in the 800-yard freestyle relay, finishing 21st in a time of 6:28.37. Jackson swam a leadoff split of 1:35.55, followed by Afrik (1:36.26), Speers (1:37.84) and freshman Matthew Grauslys (1:38.72), a last-minute substitute for junior Reed Fujan, who withdrew with illness.
Then on Friday, Plaschka swam in the 100-yard fly, touching the wall in :47.26 and grabbing 41st place. On Saturday morning, he finished 38th overall in the 100-yard freestyle in :43.58. To finish their participation in the meets, the Irish 400-yard freestyle relay team finished 20th, with the lineup of Plaschka (:43.34), Speers (:43.49), Afrik (:43.14), and Jackson (:43.75), compiling a final time of 2:53.72. First year head coach Mike Litzinger said the Irish had their share of struggles this year but did a good job overcoming them.
“My first year was a great experience, and one that was filled with challenges,” Litzinger said. “However, those challenges were very good ones and ones that took a full team effort, by the athletes, coaches and administrators. All credit for our success goes to how everyone handled the myriad of changes thrown at us.”
The NCAA championships conclude the season for the men’s and women’s programs.