Irish head to ACCs with momentum and points in hand
Brenna Moxley | Monday, February 27, 2017
The Notre Dame men’s team is in Atlanta for the ACC men’s swimming championships, which take place this Monday through Thursday.
The men carry 89 points into the week from the diving championships that occurred two weeks ago during the ACC women’s championships. Junior diver Joe Coumos claimed first place in the one-meter ACC championship with a score of 420.00. Coumos’s performance marked Notre Dame’s first-ever ACC championship medal for diving.
Cuomos’ fourth-place finish in the men’s three-meter secured critical points for the squad to bring into this week. The men enter the championships with over 10 meet wins. Last year, the Notre Dame men finished seventh in the ACC championships with 678 points.
Irish head coach Mike Litzinger explained what the squad needs to do in order to place higher than predicted, saying the key will be for his team to build on the momentum Coumos created.
“That was huge for our team and got us off to a good start,” Litzinger said. “The key to meets like this is really relays because they are double points. I think we have really strong relays going into this meet.
“The key to all of the individual races is to make sure that our depth follows through. We will have a superstar in each event — for example, [junior] Justin Plaschka — but we need the four guys behind them to step up and score big points as well. We are picked to finish seventh and that would be the key to finishing much higher than that. The goal is to swim as fast as we can and get to the NCAAs.”
Litzinger described the implications of this meet and the importance of being the final conference meet in the country.
“The ACC has the advantage because it is the last men’s championship meet in the country,” Litzinger said. “We already know the times the Pac-12 and the Big Ten have put up so we have an idea of what times it will take to be invited to the NCAAs. They usually invite the top 24 or 28 guys so if we put ourselves in that range then we’re going to be alright.”
While the ACC is the final conference meet, it is also one of the most competitive. Litzinger said, with the exception of North Carolina State, every place should be up for grabs.
“N.C. State has certainly separated themselves from the rest of the group — they are going for their third championship in a row and are heavily favored,” Litzinger said. “However, second through eighth is going to be an interesting battle and is very evenly matched so it is going to be a dog fight for those few spots.”
Beside Cuomos’ performance two weeks ago, Litzinger also said the women’ team’s seventh-place performance inspired the men and hopes the team unity will help the men in their quest for ACC success.
“I things have settled down since last year and there is no mystery as to who we are — I think our identity is much stronger,” Litzinger said. “How we are practicing and acting around the pool now is partly reflective of the women and their success last week. I think the men took a key from them and feel good and confident.
“Now they just need to go out and execute.”