Notre Dame to face top competition at Shamrock Invitational this weekend
Charlotte Edmonds | Wednesday, January 23, 2019
Hosting their second and final home meet of the season, the Notre Dame swimming and diving team will take on some of the top programs in the country this weekend, using it as a benchmark before jumping into the thick of its postseason competition.
After a successful fall season saw the Irish take on the likes of Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Georgia Tech and Purdue, competition has resumed with the Shamrock Invitational, which kicks off Friday at Rolfs Aquatic Center.
“We’re at the point in the season now, after a really great fall and a really great Christmas training trip, and now we’re dialing in for our championships,” head coach Mike Litzinger said. “Both men and women put in an incredible amount of training over the break.”
The 18th-ranked Irish will face off against a broad range of competitors, with their toughest opponent of the weekend likely being No. 10 Ohio State. Litzinger said this Invitational is unique in scheduling as all championship events are included over the two-day period.
“What makes it even more unique is having Big Ten teams like Ohio State and Iowa come in, and some non-traditional foes like Akron and Missouri State,” he said. “What everybody’s using this for is a leaping-off point to see where we are prior to conference and the NCAAs.”
The meet has built itself a reputation for producing impressive performances, as last year saw the Irish claim first on both sides of the competition and best the second-place Buckeyes by 15 points.
“The last couple times we’ve held this meet here we’ve broke 36 pool records, so that gives you an idea for how fast it is,” Litzinger said. “We’re looking forward to a great weekend of racing some really good teams.”
Expected to lead the way in those record-breaking performances is the sophomore-freshman duo of Zach Yeadon and Marton Barta, respectively. Yeadon has continued to build off of his All-American rookie season, establishing himself as one of the premier distance swimmers in the sport. Meanwhile, Barta, a native of Szombathely, Hungary, has made a name for himself in the swimming community, currently claiming the second-fastest time of the season in the 400-meter individual medley.
This meet also gives Litzinger and his staff the opportunity to honor the 13 graduating athletes in the last home meet of their careers. This senior class has made significant contributions to the team, including a program-best 25th-place finish at the NCAA Championships in 2016 for the men and a 9-0-1 record for the women over the past two years, not losing a single dual meet.
Litzinger praised the work this class has done and attributed the success of the program in part to its great leadership.
On the other side of the pools, head diving coach Caiming Xie has been putting in countless hours with his athletes, preparing them for the elite competition they are bound to face in the ACC and Big Ten meets they frequent.
“They’re gaining experience as the season goes on and our dives are really developing well,” Litzinger said. “ … We’re thrilled that they’re gonna have the chance to compete against some of the best divers in the country in Ohio state and Iowa, which are traditionally strong programs.”
The meet is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Friday with the second round following later that day at 5 p.m. and the third and final round opening at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Following the Shamrock Invitational, the Irish will continue regular-season competition, traveling to East Lansing, Michigan, and Columbus, Ohio, to take on the Spartans and Buckeyes, respectively. In late February, the team will shift its focus to the ACC Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina.
“We’re ready to race this weekend, and this is going to tell us an awful lot about the team we have heading into the ACC and NCAA Championships,” Litzinger said.