Irish shatter records at ACC Championships, Guiliano makes strong ACC debut
Madeline Ladd | Tuesday, February 22, 2022
The Notre Dame swimming and diving team competed at the 2022 ACC Swimming and Diving Championships this past weekend at the McAuley Aquatic Pavilion in Atlanta, Georgia. After five days of competition, the Irish women finished sixth and the men finished eighth. The teams had 651 points and 474 points respectively. Six school records were broken, with contributions from both the men’s and women’s teams.
Assistant coach Joe Brinkman was pleased with the way the team was able to come together at the championship meet and post up some season-best times as well as NCAA qualifying cuts.
“Overall, the weekend was a really special weekend for the team,” Brinkman said. “Competing at that meet, it’s the fastest conference meet in the country, so for us to have the success that we did and perform the way we did with that kind of competition was definitely very spectacular for our group.”
The meet atmosphere was different this year than last, as there were now fans allowed in the stands and men and women competed the same weekend. In the past, men’s and women’s competitions have been separated by a weekend, and COVID-19 restrictions did not allow fans to attend last year.
Brinkman said these changes made for a positive experience.
“We went from having no fans to having both men’s and women’s fans,” Brinkman said. “It made for a very loud meet, which provided a great, energetic atmosphere for the athletes to compete. Last year you could hear a pin drop at the meet, so it certainly means a lot to be able to compete in an environment like that and it gives you a lot of adrenaline. This definitely makes a huge difference in the way our athletes performed this year.”
A standout performer of the meet was freshman Chris Guiliano, who broke school records not once but three times. On the second day of competition, Guiliano secured a spot for finals in the 50 freestyle with a time of 19.28. He came in right under the 19.30 record set by Justin Plaschka back in 2018. In the evening finals, Guiliano broke his own record during the 200 freestyle relay. He led off, swimming a 19.17 and ripping .11 off his time to contribute to the relay team’s NCAA A Cut time of 1:16.98. Guiliano, junior Cason Wilburn, sophomore Stephan Lukashev and senior Josh Bottelberghe swam the race for the Irish. The quartet was .1 second off from breaking the school record in the 200 freestyle relay.
As competition progressed, Guiliano gained more momentum. On the last day, Guiliano broke the 100 freestyle record with a finals time of 42.60. Moments later, he went on to break his own record in the lead-off leg of the 400 medley relay with a 42.34. This swim helped contribute to the relay team finishing sixth with an NCAA B Cut time of 2:51.68. The four swimmers in the 400 medley were Guiliano, Wilburn, junior Alec Delong and Lukashev.
Brinkman was impressed with Guiliano’s performance as a whole, especially considering this was Guiliano’s first experience at the ACC Championships.
“He just continued to get better as the meet went on,” Brinkman said. “The guy just loves to compete, loves to race and wants to get his hand on the way. You really saw him maturing throughout the meet and got more and more experience being really confident on the block. He was a really big asset for our team not only individually but for the relays, helping us get those A Cut times for NCAAs.”
The Irish broke two more school records. This time the men’s and women’s 200 medley relay teams broke records on the third day of competition. The men’s team of Kaden Smesko, Bottelberghe, Wilburn and Guiliano broke the school record in the event. They swam the race in 1:23.81, surpassing the previous record set in 2017 and getting an NCAA A Cut.
Similar to the men’s squad, the women earned an NCAA A Cut in the 200 medley finals. Freshman Jessica Geriane, junior Elizabeth Fry, junior Coleen Gillilan and freshman Madelyn Christman finished seventh overall. They swam a time of 1:37.53.
Bottelberghe broke his previous school record in the 100 breaststroke that he set earlier this season at the Ohio State Invitational. He finished second overall with a time of 51.61. Also on the fourth day of competition, Smesko, Bottelberghe, Wilburn and Guiliano broke the 2017 school record in the 400 medley relay with a time of 3:06.28. This was the second record the quartet took down this week.
For the divers, senior Kelly Straub earned a bronze medal in the platform on the last day of competition. Senior David Petrison and junior William Rains contributed to the Irish men’s team.
“I think Will Rains and David Petrison dove within themselves. They probably did about how they’d been training, so from that standpoint they didn’t do too bad,” Head diving coach Mark Bradshaw said.
As a whole, Bradshaw said he felt the diving performance at ACCs was not reflective of the work put in at practice. However, he acknowledged overall improvement throughout the season and sets his sights on applying this to competition.
“We really haven’t shown our improvement in our competitions yet, but some of us have another shot at it,” Bradshaw said. “We are relatively young and we just have to keep building. The training that we’ve done, we need to apply that more in competitions. So moving forward that’s kind of going to be our goal.”
The divers will be competing in a separate zone competition in the next few weeks in hopes of qualifying for NCAAs. Straub, freshman Calie Brady, senior Annie Wiese, and junior Samantha Gillis are qualified for the regional meet. Brinkman has hopes of them performing well enough to make it to NCAAs.
“Our regional zone competition is March 7, 8 and 9,” Brinkman said. “Aside from our championships, that’s our biggest meet. We hope to try to qualify as many people as we can.”
Next up for the Irish swimmers is NCAA Championships in Atlanta, taking place in mid-March. B cut times were achieved this weekend by senior Luciana Thomas, junior Liam Hutchinson, senior Max Miranda, junior Coleen Gillilan, sophomore Sean Faikish, Lukashev, sophomore Tyler Christianson, sophomore Megan Deuel, junior Maddy Potter, Wilburn, freshman Madelyn Christman, junior Charles Korndorffer, and Smesko. The team has a few last-chance meets to allow other swimmers a chance at qualifying for the meet.
“After those last chance meets are done, we’ve got another two weeks until the women’s NCAA and three until the men’s,” Brinkman said. ”It’s all about preparation and getting the kids ready to swim faster than they did at ACCs. It’ll be an exciting next few weeks, getting ready to go on a national stage.”
The Irish are set to compete in the D1 NCAA championships throughout the second half of March. The women will compete first March 16-19, followed by the men March 23-26. Both competitions will be taking place in Atlanta. The meet will be available on WatchESPN and live scoring will be provided.