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ND women’s swimming and diving performance at NCAA Championships

| Wednesday, March 24, 2021

As the last hand hit the wall at the Greensboro Aquatic Center for the NCAA Women’s Championships, the University of Notre Dame Women’s Swimming and Diving team left the arena with a sense of accomplishment that no personal record or medal can compare with.

The team was represented by first-year swimmer Megan Deuel; sophomore swimmer Coleen Gillilan; junior swimmers Sammie Eyolfson, Madeline LaPorte, Bayley Stewart and Luciana Thomas; and senior diver Kelly Straub.

Head coach Mike Litzinger said his student-athletes exited the pool knowing that they competed fiercely during the strangest year in recent history, something each individual will carry with them for the future.

“[They blocked] out the noise of COVID and the ‘We can’t get it done this year’ attitude, and they went around and decided that they were going to get something done,” he said.

Beyond the overarching aspects and connotations of the meet, great successes occurred in the pool and on the deck.

Litzinger said that while the scenery was different, there was still plenty of energy for the Notre Dame swimmers to feed off of.

“You could tell when a Notre Dame swimmer was up on the block because you could hear the rest of the girls,” he said. “It was just as exciting as the meet usually is because it’s the national championship. You’re seeing a lot of fast swimming and diving.”

The times in the pool also helped create lots of energy, with both Stewart and Gillilan earning honorable mention all-American status.

Stewart won the distinction for her performance in the 200-meter Backstroke, while Gillilan set two team records for going 51.60 in the 100-meter Butterfly and 1:53.94 in the 200-meter Fly.

Litzinger highlighted two standout swimmers, saying “Coleen and Bayley really took advantage of having the meet this year and did their thing!”

On the diving side, Straub also earned honorable mention All-American status for her performance in the 3-meter event.

Litzinger said he hopes the success of his group that competed at the NCAA Championships rubs off on the rest of the team.

“I’m very proud of the women that came here, and I hope they share their experience with the rest of the team moving forward, because it is a special experience to have,” he said. “It’s very unique. You have to work to get here, so they need to share that with their teammates at home, and hopefully next year we’re having a lot more kids represent Notre Dame at the national championship meet.”

Litzinger said he is excited about what his team will be able to accomplish in the coming years.

“I think that we’re going to have to focus on our physical presence and how we can improve our strength, our conditioning, and our competitive attitudes,” he said. “I want them in that competitive cauldron. We have to find a way to increase the fire in our belly to be great.”

Already in preparation for next year, Litzinger said the team who did not travel to NCAA already has a jump on their competitive attitude for next year.

“We’re much better than we showed this year,” he said. “And we don’t want to leave those stones unturned anymore.”

Notre Dame Men’s Swimming and Diving will compete at NCAA Championships on March 24-27.

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