Irish host penultimate regular season meet vs. UIC
Observer Sports Staff | Wednesday, January 26, 2022
The Notre Dame Swimming and Diving team returns to action this weekend for a one-day dual meet. Notre Dame initially scheduled West Virginia but now faces UIC this weekend. The reason for the schedule change was not announced by the Irish. This will be the next-to-last meet of the regular season for Notre Dame; they host the Irish First Chance meet the following weekend.
Irish men look to bounce back
For the men’s team, this meet provides a chance to bounce back from a dual-meet defeat in the Tim Welsh Classic to No. 14 Ohio State last weekend. That meet was not without individual highlights. In particular, senior captain Josh Bottelberghe dominated, winning both the 100 and 200 breaststroke while contributing to a pair of winning relays. He leads the Irish charge into the weekend, as Notre Dame looks for their first win of the spring season. Their last meet victory came on Oct. 22 versus Purdue.
Notre Dame should be heavily favored in this contest. The Irish hold significant time advantages over UIC in the majority of events. Bottelberghe can be expected to dominate once more. Although UIC dominated their recent competition against Valparaiso, their times simply do not match up with the Irish’s efforts. Bottelberghe holds a 13-second advantage in the 200-yard breaststroke over the Flames’ top finisher.
In the 200 freestyle, Notre Dame’s top five finishers from the Tim Welsh Classic outpaced UIC’s top finisher in the Flames’ most recent competition. In the 500 Free, there are six Irish swimmers who could’ve knocked off the Flame’s best time.
Notre Dame can really pour on the points in the 400 IM. In the Tim Welsh Classic, the Irish dominated this event, placing the top four finishers. Overall, they had five swimmers notch finishes of under four minutes. Senior Max Miranda clocked in at 3:50.26. For UIC, Kyle Lewarchick won the event against Valparaiso in 4:10.10.
Overall, the Irish should be able to rely on both star power and their depth to overwhelm the Flames who, on paper, are extremely outmatched.
20th-ranked women look to keep rolling
The Irish women are no longer seeking their first win of the spring, taking down Ohio State and Akron on the women’s side of the Tim Welsh Classic. Junior Colleen Gillilan paced the Irish with victories in three individual wins. Graduate student diver Kelly Straub won the one-meter diving event and nabbed third in the three-meter, claiming co-ACC diver of the week.
Like the men’s event, the Irish women enter this event as heavy favorites. Looking at Notre Dame’s top performers, there are few proven equals in the pool amidst the Flames. Gillilan’s top competition in her specialty — the butterfly — should come from fellow Irish swimmers. Her winning time in the 100 of 51.76 seconds is nearly eight seconds clear of UIC’s top finisher in the event. Gillilan leads the 400-yard medley relay team that was out-touched by .06 seconds last week. They enter seeded about 25 seconds ahead of UIC’s top relay team, so the Irish should be able to dominate the relay events as well.
Also like the men, the 400-yard IM should be an event where Notre Dame can really pull away from the field. Both senior Luciana Thomas and sophomore Sarah Bender enter with personal bests of over 20 seconds better than their UIC counterparts.
Ultimately, the Irish should dominate this weekend. There’s no event where UIC enters a favorite, and the Irish boast enough depth to quell the Flames up and down their roster. With just three weeks until the ACC Championships, look for this to be a tune-up and dominating effort from the blue and gold.