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Men finish fourth at ACC Championships

| Tuesday, February 27, 2018

This past weekend, the Notre Dame men’s swimming and diving team wrapped up the ACC championships in Greensboro, North Carolina, finishing fourth overall.

With freshman Zach Yeadon blazing the way for the Irish, the team earned 941 points throughout the four-day tournament. After a slow start to finish Thursday’s opening day competition in fifth, the Irish made up ground Friday to pass Florida State and held on to that position with a convincing win over the Seminoles by 112.5 points Saturday. The Irish fell to North Carolina State, who took home the championship, and Louisville and Virginia, who finished second and third, respectively.

Irish head coach Mike Litzinger said although the team was capable of doing better, its fourth place finish is still a strong showing at this level of competition.

“The ACC is the deepest conference in the NCAA,” he said. “A ninth place at our meet could easily translate to a fourth or fifth place in another conference championship. We left some points hanging out there, but we will correct that in the future.”

Yeadon broke his own 1650-yard freestyle record by 13 seconds with a new program record and also set a new Notre Dame record in the 1000-yard freestyle. His second-place time in the 1650 earned him qualification to the NCAA championships as an A selection, securing him an automatic qualification. Yeadon also picked up his second silver medal and NCAA invitation of the weekend in the 500-yard freestyle.

Yeadon was joined on the medal stand by senior Rob Whitacre, who came in second in the 200-yard backstroke. Whitacre also received bids for the NCAA championships in the 100-yard backstroke and 200-yard individual medley.

The final confirmed individual NCAA participant was senior Justin Plaschka, who qualified in the 50-yard freestyle, 100-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly. Plaschka will also join sophomores Aaron Schultz and Tabahn Afrik and junior Daniel Speers on the qualifying 200-yard and 400-yard freestyle relays.

Currently the only freshman qualifier, Yeadon will look to his veteran teammates to provide balance. His conference championship 1650-yard freestyle time would have earned him seventh at last year’s national championship, giving him a legitimate chance to earn a position on the podium in the distance races.

These three individual athletes and two relays teams are the only confirmed qualifiers, but Litzinger said he’s waiting on potential invitations for others this week. He said he expects the team will be well prepared to be a factor in the competition come the NCAA championships.

“These next couple weeks are a matter of refocusing our energy and training,” he said. “This group is really good at that adjustment, so our expectations are high.”

The diving teams will travel to Columbus, Ohio, to participate in the NCAA Diving Zones hosted by Ohio State on March 8. This meet determines regional diving qualifiers for the national championship. The swimmers who haven’t been confirmed from the A-list selection that guarantees automatic qualification will await an at-large selection from the B list. Ohio State will once again host the women’s NCAA championships beginning March 14. The men’s national championship begins March 21 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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