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Guiliano, Janton post Olympic trial cuts at U.S. Open

It was a monumental weekend for the Irish in Greensboro, North Carolina, at the 2022 Toyota U.S. Open. A select group of nine Notre Dame athletes had the opportunity to compete against swimmers from across the United States and countries such as Brazil and Ireland. Sophomore Chris Guiliano and freshman Tommy Janton shined in the pool, each earning Olympic trials cuts, shattering school records and establishing new personal bests. Notre Dame Peterson Family head coach Chris Lindauer highlighted the exposure this meet brought to the swimmers. 

“Whether they swim fast or have so-so swims, at the end of the day the experience brings so much value to growth,” Lindauer said. “This was our first opportunity to get Olympic trial cuts. The qualification window just opened up, so this was the first meet of the year anyone could get the cut.”

Guiliano and Janton both wasted no time seizing that opportunity and did not succumb to the slump of midseason swimming. Guiliano’s 100 freestyle performance of 49.17 punched him an early ticket to Lucas Oil Stadium for the 2024 Olympic trials (cut time 49.99) and broke the Irish’s school record for the event. 

“The fun starts now. 49.17 — that’s elite air. You’re starting to get up there with the best of the best, so it’s about how you look for ways to continue to climb,” Lindauer said. “Chris Guiliano, he is an athlete that ‘gets it’ at the highest level. He understands the big picture, like what it really takes to be elite.”

Guiliano felt confident going in about making the team due to his past experience.  

“Coming down to this meet, I was certainly expecting to qualify for trials,” Guiliano said. “Making it two years ago in 2021, I knew it was definitely a goal that was attainable. To get it by that much and drop as much time as I did was great. To look at the board and see the team on the side going nuts was great.”

Guiliano also competed in the 50 freestyle (22.46) where he broke the school record and punched another ticket to the trials (cut time 22.79). He added a personal best in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:50.78. He described being “ecstatic” for the rest of the season.

“Going best times in all three of my events this weekend definitely sparked some confidence to close 2022,” Guiliano said. 

Janton, part of the No. 10 freshman recruiting class nationally, qualified for the Olympic trials in both backstroke events. A 54.96 100 backstroke shattered the previous school record of 56.87 and earned Janton third place on the podium. His 200 backstroke (2:01.40) placed him second, just a hair off of winning the gold. Janton broke the school record in this event as well. 

“Tommy Janton, he’s very youthful and learning what it takes to be big time,” Lindauer said. “Like Chris, he’s set himself up in a good spot to catapult himself into the future and see where he lands. Certainly, to come away from the meet with two Olympic trial cuts and two school records was impressive with his age and how much more he has left to learn.” 

Guiliano was excited for his teammate and the success he’s had so early in his college career. 

“It’s awesome,” Guiliano said. “Seeing a freshman come in and do big things like that is great and it’s great for the program. It motivates everyone else. Seeing him on the podium was just great to see.” 

Also at the Open, freshmen Samuel Sierra and Tate Bacon posted impressive 200 butterfly swims. They finished sixth and seventh in the event’s B Final with times of 2:07.38 and 2:09.25, respectively. 

Looking ahead, the Irish will continue to train intensely in preparation for championship season. With a firmer grip on team identity and a different intensity than they had in August, Lindauer believes that the team is ready for the latter half of the season.

“We have a better pulse of where the team is now and how we can coach them better,” Lindauer said. “We’ve had to adapt to them and learn what works for this team. Every team I’ve coached is different, even if it’s a lot of the same crew. A semester under our belt to make some adjustments with our training and respond to them academically in different ways helps up make a bigger impact in their day-to-day lives. We’re back to the grind, progressing accordingly.” 

After spending extra time in South Bend and then going home for the holiday season, the Irish will head down to training camp in Naples, Florida, for two weeks of their winter break. Immediately after, they will fly to Annapolis, Maryland, to take on Navy and Princeton in a tri–meet on Jan. 13. 

“We’re excited to see where we’re at coming off of our training and how we need to adjust things accordingly after training camp and the results of Navy,” Lindauer said. “We will continue to make those adjustments as we see fit and approach championship season.”

Contact Madeline Ladd at mladd2@nd.edu.

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Lindauer talks Ohio State Invite, season goals

Notre Dame swim and dive was back in action this week. The swimmers traveled to the Ohio State Invitational and divers went down south for the Texas Diving Invitational. The team’s performance this weekend pleased head coach Chris Lindauer, as several swimmers posted top times and podium finishes. The four-day ordeal was a fitting preview for the schedule of ACCs and NCAAs that will take place later this season.

“It was really a full week affair with travel on Wednesday and competition Thursday, Friday, Saturday. We just got home this [Sunday] morning,” Lindauer said. “It takes a lot out of everybody but overall we performed very well. We were super successful both on the men’s and women’s side.” 

The Irish competed against teams such as Ohio State University, Indiana University, Virginia Tech, University of Kentucky, University of Cincinnati, Yale University, and Lindenwood University. The men placed third overall, falling to Ohio State and Indiana who were both top 10 teams last year. Senior Jack Hoagland dominated for the Irish, capturing wins in both the 400 IM (3:43.52) and the 500 freestyle (4:14.24).

“I think Jack Hoagland getting two wins against this field of competition is really impressive,” Lindauer said “They’re wins against super competitive opponents but the times he posted are among the top in the country. He’s at an elite level.”

Sophomore Chris Guiliano also had a strong showing, claiming runner-up status in the 50 freestyle (19.30) as well as third in the 100 freestyle (42.50). Guiliano put up performances against “top, top-notch competition” as Lindauer phrased it. Giuliano’s times, like Hoagland’s, are able to compete with almost anyone in the country.

On the women’s side, senior Coleen Gillilan was runner-up in both the 100 (52.24) and 200 butterfly (1:55.54). These early-season times are just off of Gillilan’s lifetime bests.

“She is really coming off of some adversity as she had shoulder surgery in the spring,” Lindauer said. “To see her bounce back and be so competitive on a good track for ACCs and NCAAs is really exciting.” 

Collectively, the relays performed highly this weekend for both men and women. The outcome pleased Lindauer, especially so early in the season.

“I think just collectively, when we look at all of our relays the majority – if not all of our relays – are faster than what they were last year at this time in the year,” Lindauer said. “Even some of them were faster than what they went at ACC Championships in February, which is really rare; you don’t usually get that.” 

This invitational was the Irish freshmen’s first glimpse of competing at a high-level college invite. Several freshmen had lifetime bests this past weekend. A few were even able to make the A-finals — something promising for young talent on the team. Lindauer commented on the quick adjustment they had to make, as competition picked up so early in the season.

“If you think about when we started in late August, we are about 2.5-3 months of training in which isn’t that much in the swimming world,” Lindauer said. “So being in this position where our freshmen are prepared to compete at this level so soon — not only our freshmen but our whole team –I think is unique. For our freshmen to learn NCAA swimming, you know this is not high school swimming, this is not club swimming. This is men and women competing at the highest level. There’s Olympians at our meet this weekend. Just for them to understand the big picture and get a sneak peek of what ACCs and NCAAs are going to be like.”

Viewing NCAAs as the finish line is a priority for Lindauer and the rest of the team. Being a top 25 program is also a priority for Lindauer. And it is something he feels the Irish can accomplish this year. The men are currently ranked No. 22 out of 25 following the meet.

“For us it’s all about NCAAs and how we can put up some points and be a top 25 program, Lindauer said. “It shocked me that Notre Dame has never had a team finish in the top 25 at NCAAs, so that’s a massive goal and I think we’ll be knocking on the door there on both sides. We are extremely competitive and aware of that goal and that’s the target we are aiming for.”

Adjusting to the culture and new environment has been a change for Lindauer and the team. Lindauer describes the experience as positive, but with “a lot of learning.” Lindauer also commends the senior class for their leadership and setting an example of excellence. 

“I am also very proud of the seniors,” Lindauer said. “Teams tend to go how seniors go so they are really the frontline of echoing our mission. They are sharing those goals. They are doing a phenomenal job of senior leadership to share that mission. Our seniors and our captains but it takes much more of the senior captains to lead the way.

Next up for the Irish is the U.S. Open, taking place from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3 in Greensboro, North Carolina. Being a long-course meter and international meet, the Open will bring top talent from around the world. It should allow teams an opportunity to see where they are at from a long-course perspective. With Olympic Trials on the horizon in June of 2024 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, a select group of Irish swimmers with have the opportunity to gun for trials cut times.

“This will be our first long-course opportunity with our team,” Lindauer said. “We are only bringing a select few. We have about 10 going, with various reasons why we picked that party. It’s really a first opportunity to see where we are at from a long course perspective, which is a different course, different competition than college swimming.”

Lindauer enjoys being a college swim coach for the diversity it brings, especially as an Olympic year approaches. 

“Being a college swim coach is unique because you have college swimming, but you also have this international level,” Lindauer said. “We want to play at our level — at the highest level. So meets like the U.S. Open are great opportunities for our team and also to put up times and some opportunities to get some Olympic Trial cuts. It’s an extremely lofty goal right now, but a dream’s a dream. 

Contact Madeline Ladd at mladd2@nd.edu

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Guffey: Why tennis is the best fan experience in sports

On Sunday, Sept. 11, Carlos Alcaraz won the U.S. Open in New York and subsequently became the youngest men’s tennis player to reach No. 1 in the world. That name was especially familiar to me. At only 19 years old, Alcaraz has become quite popular among young tennis players. I texted my brother, “didn’t we see him practice?” The answer was yes, we did.

Less than a month earlier, I had gone to the Western & Southern Open, a hard court tournament in Cincinnati just before the start of the U.S. Open. It’s less well known than the grand slam, but all of the major players — both on the men’s and women’s sides — go there every year without fail. It was at this tournament my family and I saw Alcaraz practicing on a court with just three rows of bleachers set up on either side. (There are high schools with more seating room than that.)

I had gone to the Western & Southern nine years ago and hadn’t been back since this August, but it had me thinking: Professional tennis is the best sports experience for fans out of any sport out there. Don’t believe me? Here’s why. 

There’s nowhere else you can get closer to athletes

Carlos Alcaraz, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams. One day in Cincinnati gave me and my family the opportunity to see all of these top-ranked players, along with dozens more. We went on one of the qualifying days, where players are competing to make it into the main draw of the tournament. This means the top players are probably not playing actual matches, but that’s even better. Instead of having an assigned seat in a large stadium court setting, you can stake out your favorite players on the practice schedule and attend their 30-minute to two-hour practice sessions. 

And most will stay after practice to sign hats and tennis balls for all the fans who stuck around for the entire practice session. When I went to the tournament in 2013, Novak Djokovic stayed for nearly an hour interacting with fans along every inch of the fence.

What other sport has professional practices open to everyone in the venue? The athletes even just walk on their own to the courts, meaning the player casually walking next to you could be No. 1 in the world or someone’s hitting partner. You never know. 

And, you have the freedom to choose who you watch. For instance, in the early days of bigger tournaments, you buy your grounds ticket with an assigned seat in the center court stadium. However, you have free reign to any of the practice courts and other matches for the entire day. It’s almost too much freedom as you have to decide which players you want to see the most. 

It’s international and year-round

The men’s ATP tour and fellow women’s counterpart WTA tour spans over 30 countries with players of more than 100 nationalities. And while you most likely know of the four grand slams in Melbourne, Paris, London and New York, the tours are hosted in countries and cities all over the world, giving its global fan base a chance to see their favorites anywhere.

Talk to a tennis fan in the U.S., and I would bet there’s a good chance their favorite tennis pro isn’t American. But even though they’re from a different country, they can most likely see them play in person in several cities across the U.S., from Miami to D.C. 

And with the four major tournaments spread out from January to September, there’s never a shortage of high-level tennis to watch.

It’s fun

As a disclaimer, I have played tennis my whole life, and it’s sort of a family sport, so I am a bit biased when it comes to rating how enjoyable tennis is to watch. But, there’s nothing tennis fans care about more than seeing good tennis, and it’s easy to get sucked in. 

Whether you want to check eating strawberries and cream at Wimbledon off your bucket list or need something to do in Cincinnati for a day, try a tennis tournament. Go to watch tennis, hang out with friends, drink, eat — whatever! I promise it’ll be a grand slam.

Contact Alysa Guffey at aguffey@nd.edu.

The views in this Sports Authority are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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Sports

Breen: The U.S. Open

The conclusion of the U.S. Open, overshadowed overwhelmingly this year by Serena Williams’ retirement, has had me thinking.

It is difficult for me to parse out my relationship with the sport of tennis. Unlike football, basketball or even baseball, I cannot help but feel a little vulnerable when discussing my memorable life encounters with the tennis court.

Being born on Cuyahoga County soil in September 2001 automatically endowed me with rights as a Cleveland Browns, Indians and Cavaliers fan. No one can or would argue that. But did that birth guarantee me any right to be a tennis fan? I suppose that no circumstance of birth could ever take away one’s right to be a tennis fan. Perhaps the better question is: What circumstances of birth impel one to be more likely to exercise his or her right as a tennis fan? In theory, I am American and should be rooting for American tennis players during the four grand slam tournaments, the U.S. Open most of all. Yet, as I came to notice growing up, in practice most people will not exercise their rights as tennis fans unless they are born in particular areas of that county, Cuyahoga, and its composite suburbs.

As my mental topography of my home suburb of Shaker Heights expanded as I grew up, so did my knowledge of the various tennis courts in the city. What were the circumstances of my birth that allow me to remember right now a certain catalogue of tennis courts dispersed around my hometown?

The only locations of tennis courts that I know in Shaker are located at country clubs or schools. I have noticed some tennis courts in homeowners’ backyards on my summer jogs around the
suburb, but I do not know the names of the homeowners. Tennis is exclusive. All the country clubs cost thousands of dollars to belong to and all the schools but one I can think of are private. The one public location that comes to my mind that is free for anyone to play tennis is located at Shaker Heights High School. I have seen how often those courts get used on the summer nights where I have practiced baseball on the high school’s field right across the street. They get busy. I suppose I have seen the tennis courts at the country clubs or private schools grow crowded from time to time. I do not think I have ever seen someone play tennis on a court in the backyard of someone’s private home.

It has been years since I have played a tennis game. Growing up, I used to participate in tennis camps at a local country club my family belonged to.

I remember one year my brother and I decided to get more into the sport. The club’s tennis pro encouraged us to sign up for a tennis tournament. We showed up in our neon Nike athletic gear like we always had at the camps, and we were the only kids not wearing a suit of white. It was one of the most embarrassing days of my young life. That day I did not belong.

The circumstances of my life have blessed with incredible opportunities like the chance to attend the University of Notre Dame. The circumstances of my life have also allowed me to encounter the sport of tennis within an exclusive level. With the Williams sisters fading out of the sport of tennis, what reason do I have to keep up with the sport? Cool tournament names like the Australian Open surely will not be enough.

Contact Peter Breen at pbreen2@nd.edu.