May 16, 2017
NOTRE DAME, Indiana - The University of Notre Dame swimming and diving team held its year-end awards ceremony on Saturday, April 22. Seniors Catherine Mulquin and Trent Jackson were named the Notre Dame Monogram Club Women's and Men's Most Valuable Swimmers, respectively.
Mulquin finished 15th in the morning prelims of the 100 back at the 2017 NCAA Women's Swimming & Diving Championships with a time of 51.72, which earned her honorable mention All-America honors. She then swam 51.89 and finished sixth in the evening's consolation final. Mulquin set the school record in the 100 back (51.72) and competed on four relay school records (200 and 400 medley as well as 200 and 400 free). She even swam the 50 free at NCAAs for the first time in her career, and her time of 22.52 finished 40th -- fourth-fastest in school history.
Jackson earned All-America honors in his final meet for Notre Dame at the 2017 NCAA Men's Swimming & Diving Championships. He swam 1:53.58 in the morning prelims of the 200 breaststroke, which was good enough to finish in the top eight. Jackson advanced to the finals and placed eighth with a time of 1:55.24. He set the school record in the 100 breaststroke (52.25) and competed on two relay school records (200 and 400 medley).
Treble swam team-bests in the 500 free (4:47.55), 1000 free (9:56.01) and 1650 free (16:30.68).
"Molly has emerged as a respected leader and student-athlete on our team," head coach Mike Litzinger said. "I'm excited for her to lead our team, and continue to build on the momentum that our women own entering next season."
Crea, who missed the 2016-17 season with an injury, qualified for the 2016 NCAA Women's Swimming & Diving Championships. She also finished 17th in the 1-meter and 18th in the 3-meter at the 2016 ACC Swimming & Diving Championships.
"Annie will be back as a captain for us this season and we're thrilled," Litzinger said. "She spent the entire 2016-17 season dealing with an injury, but will be back to lead our squad. I'm looking forward to seeing her return to form."
Whitacre is the school-record holder in the 100 back, 200 back and part of the record-setting 200 and 400 medley-relay squads. He qualified for the 2017 NCAA Men's Swimming & Diving Championships in the 100 and 200 back. Whitacre also finished 24th in the 200 back at the 2016 United States Olympic Team Trials.
Plaschka earned All-America honors in both the 200 and 400 free relays. He holds the school record in the 50 free, 100 free and 100 fly. An all-ACC honoree in 2017, Plaschka is a member of the Jamaican National Team and will represent his country at the 2017 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, later this summer.
The following awards were presented at the team's annual awards banquet last month:
Monogram Club Most Valuable Swimmers
"Catherine had tremendous year," Litzinger said. "We set a goal for her to score at the NCAAs and earn All-America status, and she was able to achieve both. It's a great feeling to help a student-athlete achieve that goal and dream, especially when they've worked as hard as Catherine."
"Trent was a middle-distance swimmer when I took over the program," Litzinger said. "We've been able to turn him into a breast stroker. For him to be a part of the final eight at the NCAAs, in his last race his senior year, is a culmination of a real special experience for him."
Patrick Reilly McManus AwardDaniel Speers
The Patrick Reilly McManus Award is given to the male student-athlete who performs well in and out of the pool in pressure situations and best exemplifies the term teammate.
"Daniel is not only a great sprint athlete, but he's key on all our relays," Litzinger said. "His participation in those relays has really allowed our teams to ascend to another level. He continually had one of the fastest 50 split times in the country, and when you're in crunch time and need to rely on someone for those relays, which count for double points in dual meets and NCAAs, he cashed his chips in every time."
Blanchard AwardRob Whitacre
The Blanchard Award is given to the male student-athlete whose performance, leadership and lifestyle embody the personal qualities of former Notre Dame swimmer and team captain Charles Blanchard.
"This is a very special award as Charlie (Blanchard) personally comes back every year to hand out the award," Litzinger said. "It's a holistic award. It's given to a guy that gets it done in the pool, lives a great lifestyle and answers all of his academic responsibilities. Quite simply, he's a leader of the team and Rob lives that way. During final exams, when everything is optional, he makes every practice. When everyone leaves, he wants to stay and watch film. He's the quarterback, if you will, of what we do."
Beeler-Hipp AwardReilly Lanigan, Nick Milikich
The Beeler-Hipp Award is selected by the senior class and awarded to one freshman female and one male student-athlete who best exemplify the vitality, competitiveness and love for Notre Dame shown by former Irish swimmers' Meghan Beeler and Colleen Hipp.
"This award is very unique to Notre Dame," Litzinger said. "It honors Meghan and Colleen and what they brought to this program in their short time here. This simply recognizes the best of what we have in the freshmen class -- being a great teammate, being competitive from the start and leading that class in the locker room. Both of these student-athletes really exemplify those characteristics."
Most ImprovedMeaghan O'Donnell, Richard Mannix
The Most Improved Award is selected by the coaching staff and awarded to one female and one male student-athlete who have shown the most improvement throughout the year.
"Meaghan was probably our third-best breastroker a year ago, but emerged this season as our top performance in that discipline. She helped break a number of school-relay records and individually qualified for NCAAs, which is very difficult to do as they only take the top-33 women in the nation. It's been really fun to watch her take that leap to becoming one of the premier swimmers in the country. Richard was probably a 16th to 24th-type finisher in the ACCs last season, and next thing you know this season, he's a top-eight finisher. He truly bought into what we were selling in the distance program and vaulted his performance to another level at the conference meet."
Knute Rockne Scholar-AthleteChristine Stitcher, Kevin Bradley
The Knute Rockne Scholar-Athlete Award is given by the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley and awarded to the team member who has done the most outstanding job as a student-athlete.
"These two seniors have both excelled in the classroom over their entire collegiate careers," Litzinger said. "They've proven time and time again, that you can do both at a very, very high level."
Golden Dumbbell/Weight Room WarriorKatie Smith, Jack Russell
The Golden Dumbbell/Weight Room Warrior Award is given by the strength and conditioning staff to the student-athlete who shows unmatched effort, continuous improvement and enthusiasm in the weight room for the betterment of themselves and their teammates.
"It's not just the coaches on the pool deck that play a part in the success of this program," Litzinger said. "Our sports nutritionists, athletic trainers and academic support folks, we really involve them as much as we can. And, Kaitlin Sweeney is our strength and conditioning coach and she works her tail off with these kids, and we like to recognize her efforts with the acknowledgement of Katie and Jack. They best represent what Kaitlin brings to our program throughout the year."
-- ND --