Irish prep for men’s NCAA Championship
Sean Kelley | Wednesday, March 24, 2021
Notre Dame Men’s Swimming and Diving program is prepared and ready for the precipice of their season, the NCAA Championship meet. When keeping the team focused, Coach Mike Litzinger made it clear how the team keeps on task.
“It’s pretty easy [to maintain focus] if you’re going to be at the fastest swim meet in the world other than the Olympic Games,” Litzinger said. “You have to be on your toes … You just have to take your shot early, and if you risk a little bit and are aggressive in the morning you’re going to be a happy swimmer at night.”
Litzinger is priming his swimmers for success this week by pushing them to go out and swim fast in the preliminary round so they will be highly seeded in the evening. The team is also confident coming into the swim at the Greensboro Aquatic Center for the second time this season. Litzinger spoke to the team’s comfort at the pool.
“We have a routine down, and the guys know it,” he said. “We swim fast here, and they know the landscape. There is a little bit of an advantage.”
As for the opponents coming in this weekend, the team is prepared for whoever they swim against, whether they are from the ACC or not. Litzinger spoke to the condition of his swimmers up against a different grouping of teams.
“It’s not really going to affect us at all, simply because 10 of the teams in the ACC are ranked in the top 25 in the country,” he said. “We’re seeing half of those teams on a regular basis, and so our championship was just like the NCAA. The team knows how competitive it is; it’s not a secret. They’ll be ready mentally.”
Continuing, Litzinger expressed great excitement in his athletes competing this weekend. The Irish are represented by freshman Tyler Christianson for the 400 IM, sophomore Jack Hoagland for the 500 Freestyle, 400 IM and 1650 Freestyle, junior Josh Bottelberghe for the 100 and 200 Breaststroke and junior Zachary Smith for the 400 IM. The team is also sending their 800 Free Relay consisting of Hoagland, sophomore Alec DeLong, sophomore Cason Wilburn and senior Sadler McKeen.
“I think it’ll be a lot of fun watching Jack,” Litzinger said of Hoagland, who was named ACC Championship Swimmer of the meet. “I’m excited about our 800 Free Relay. I think Josh Bottelberghe has some opportunity in front of him to really establish himself as one of the nation’s top breaststrokers.”
With the greatest collegiate field set to face off, the Irish would like to leave this meet with more than just good times.
“Since I’ve been at Notre Dame, we’ve had our highest NCAA finish, which is 23rd, two years ago,” Litzinger said. “We certainly want to surpass that, but the goal is to swim fast, be competitive and enjoy ourselves doing it. I think if we do that, we’re going to be in really good shape.”
Notre Dame Men’s Swimming and Diving will compete March 24-27 in Greensboro, North Carolina at the NCAA Championship meet.