Irish place 5th at ACC Championships
Sean Kelley | Tuesday, February 23, 2021
After a year of uncertainty, Notre Dame women’s swimming and diving team put together an impressive finish at the ACC Championships, placing fifth. This was a season unlike any other for coach Mike Litzinger’s team, but one that this team took full advantage of as an opportunity to improve and swim fast.
“This was a test meet for the NCAA Championships, which is going to be held in Greensboro in a couple of weeks, and it was successful,” Litzinger said.
This year’s ACC Championship meet at Greensboro Aquatic Center looked radically different from years past.
“There were no spectators,” Litzinger said of one major difference. “So we were all up in the stands in our own sections socially distanced, and our group tested three times while we were here.”
With the irregular, also comes the regular for Litzinger’s team. After their arrival in Greensboro, much of the team was buzzing about one of Litzinger’s new team traditions. He explained that the team has “a WWE-style championship belt.”
“Whoever sets a new Notre Dame record gets the belt for the evening and gets to sign their name, the date and the record that they broke on the back of it in a metallic marker,” Litzinger said.
Litzinger was thrilled with the response to the belt and will continue this tradition for seasons to come.
Continuing, Litzinger spoke about the standout events of the weekend.
“I was really impressed with [juniors] Madeline LaPorte and Sammie Eyolfson’s 1650 freestyle,” he said. “That’s a grueling event. You have to train really hard for that event, and it’s on the last day of the meet, so you’ve already been through two and a half days of swimming before you get to it. So, for them to step up and you know really do a great job out there was really impressive to me.”
Laporte placed sixth with a time of 16:19.02 and Eyolfson’s placed eighth with a time of 16:28.80. Litzinger also had high praise for senior Kelly Straub and junior Luciana Thomas.
“Kelly Straub was very impressive, finishing third, fourth and fifth and each of the disciplines and diving,” Litzinger said. “And then Luciana Thomas just keeps doing her thing, making the championship final in the 500 free and the 400 IM [and] the 200 butterfly.”
Litzinger made sure to highlight the improvement he saw from Eyolfson.
“She’s never made it to the ACC team before her junior year,” he said. “She spent two years working in the training pool trying to make the team. This year she got her shot, and all of a sudden she’s scoring in three events at the ACC Championship and in the final for one of them so to me that’s really impressive.”
Concluding, Litzinger talked about the NCAA tournament coming up in the next few weeks. The Irish will have five swimmers and two or three divers that will travel and compete at Greensboro. When asked about re-entering taper season and getting in the championship mindset, Litzinger elaborated on his plan.
“There’s not a lot of magic in it,” he said. “It is kind of a reset, refocus and get back to your pacing and speed. I think we’ll handle that well. We usually swim, a little bit faster at the NCAA.”
The Notre Dame women’s swimming and diving team will compete at the NCAA Championships March 17-20.