Solid individual times propel Irish toward ACC championships
Jack Concannon | Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Notre Dame competed at the Ohio State Invitational Tournament over the weekend to end the regular season in advance of ACC championships in Atlanta this week and next.
The Invitational brought 11 schools together, and the Irish had several swimmers post B-cut NCAA times, meaning that these were times that could potentially qualify them for the NCAA championship invitational.
The Irish men had a few standout performances is the meet. Sophomore Dan Fujan’s 20.09 in the men’s 50-meter freestyle earned him a B-cut time, and placed him second in a field of 26 swimmers. Sophomore Billy Barth’s 1:38.36 in the 200-meter backstroke was his best performance of the season in that event.
The women matched the men with top times on their side, as well. Sophomore Paige Kaplan’s 2:06.17 in the women’s 200 IM was a personal best, and senior Molly Barry picked up a major win for the Irish in the 500-yard freestyle with a 4:52.98, almost a full two seconds faster than her preliminary time.
Notre Dame head coach Mike Litzinger was pleased with his team’s performance.
“I think we’re in really good shape,” Litzinger said. “I’m proud of the work that we’ve put in all year. I think the team is ready to step up. We’re ready to respond to the challenges that other teams are going to show us. It’s time to put that racing that we’ve done this year to work.”
Many swimmers, especially freshmen and sophomores, saw their best performances of the year come this past weekend, which Litzinger pointed to as a sign of improvement.
“We are far ahead of where we were a year ago,” Litzinger said. “We’ve gelled as a team, and, so far, every time we’ve challenged our swimmers, they’ve responded. We’ve never shied away from a challenge. We went to Louisville who was ranked seventh in the country and it came down to the final two events. This is a team that responds to challenges.”
Now, all eyes turn to Atlanta for this year’s ACC championship meet. Litzinger named freshman Abbie Dolan, senior Catherine Malquin and sophomore Alice Truce as swimmers that will be crucial for them in the ACC championships.
“We’re not built to win the championship yet — that’s two or three years down the line — but we’re setting the table for future success, and excited about what we can do this year,” Litzinger said.
The ACC women’s championships began on Monday and continues through Thursday, and the ACC men’s championships go from Monday to Thursday next week at McCauley Aquatic Center.