ND women post record breaking year behind leadership
Inigo Yturralde | Friday, May 17, 2019
The Irish had a record-breaking season, competing and performing at a high level across all collegiate competitions, both during the regular season and during the postseason. Notre Dame finished the season undefeated in all dual meets, placing fourth in the ACC Championships and sending 12 swimmers to the NCAA Championships, receiving a record eight individual invitations to the meet.
The year’s veteran lineup was spearheaded by eight seniors. Head swim coach Mike Litzinger attributed much of the team’s success to the guidance and culture of leadership on the team.
“The highlight [of the season] was in four years us moving from eighth to fourth place in elite,” Litzinger said. “The senior class is very impactful for us to finish in that elite area of the ACC. The other piece was having 15 women qualifying for the NCAAs. With three being our first year, now we’ve got 15 there.”
Litzinger said the team had more of a presence at tournaments this year than in years past.
“Our women learned to race with the elite in the ACC,” Litzinger said. “I feel really good about that. They were undefeated in the dual meets. They learned how to swim and dive as a team and that is huge.”
This season, senior Nikki Smith set a school record in the 200-meter fly, senior Alice Treuth set a school record in the 200-meter back and junior Abbie Dolan set a school record in the 100-meter free. All three of swimmers were also named All-American honorable mentions at the NCAA meet.
Notre Dame had three divers qualify for the NCAA Championships — sophomore Kelly Straub, junior Erin Isola and freshman Annie Wiese. All three divers will be returning next year, ready to compete for another spot at the NCAA level.
Litzinger said despite the senior departures, he expects returning athletes to contribute greatly.
“We’re losing a lot of experience in those senior women, but we have a junior class that is ready to pick the slack up, become leaders and do their jobs,” he said.
Looking to next year, Litzinger says the future is bright for the Irish women’s swimming and diving teams.
“We have the No. 4 recruit in the country coming in on the women’s side,” Litzinger said. “She was recruited by absolutely the best teams in the country. Coleen Gillilan is her name. She is signed, sealed and delivered. She’ll be here this summer. Now we are starting to recruit at that elite level on the women’s side.”
Setting a new standard this season, the women’s team will look to return stronger than ever.